- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors sold stocks moderately lower yesterday, ending a five-day rally as rising oil prices and disappointing results from Lowe’s Cos. raised concerns about a slowdown in consumer spending.

Lowe’s, the nation’s second-largest home-improvement chain after Home Depot Inc., reported that second-quarter profit rose 11 percent. However, the company cut its full-year earnings outlook on worries that higher energy prices and a sluggish housing market will curb consumers’ willingness to spend.

Wall Street also was troubled by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which sent oil prices up $1.38 to $72.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Fears that higher crude prices will limit economic growth sent shares of home builders and airlines lower.

Last week’s gains pushed major indexes to three-month highs. With little in the way of corporate earnings reports this week and only two major economic reports due, investors were hard-pressed to extend the rally.

Easing tensions in the Middle East helped drive oil prices lower last week and trigger a rally on Wall Street. Profit-taking after the weeklong rally came on light volume, typical for a late August day with little market-moving news.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 36.42, or 0.32 percent, to 11,345.05. Last week, the Dow rose 2.65 percent.

Broader stock indicators also slid. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 4.78, or 0.37 percent, to 1,297.52, and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 16.20, or 0.75 percent, to 2,147.75.

Bonds rose, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury note falling to 4.82 percent from 4.84 percent Friday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.

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