- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 13, 2008

NEW YORK | Wall Street skidded lower Tuesday as downbeat news from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and other financial companies lifted the market’s anxiety about the continuing impact of the credit crisis on the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 140 points.

The latest reminder of continuing troubles for banks and brokerages came when JPMorgan said late Monday it has incurred wider losses in its mortgage holdings so far in the third quarter than in the second quarter. The nation’s second-largest bank by assets said in a regulatory filing it lost $1.5 billion, after hedges, in its mortgage-backed securities and loans this quarter, compared with $1.1 billion in the second three months of 2008.

The losses were proof to investors that the financial sector’s problems appear to be nowhere near a resolution.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. fell after several analysts lowered their ratings and earnings estimates for the investment bank. And UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, reported further losses and write-downs of $5.1 billion during the second quarter.

The market’s losses were mitigated for part of the session by a drop in the price of oil — an illustration of the ongoing push-and-pull on Wall Street between oil prices and any news about financials. The erratic trading has led to a series of triple-digit moves up and down in the Dow in the past few weeks, including Tuesday’s drop.

Oil trading was buffeted Tuesday by several factors: differing views on whether global demand is falling or rising, and word from BP PLC that it had shut down an oil pipeline that runs through Georgia as a precautionary measure due to the fighting between Georgian and Russian troops. Light, sweet crude settled down $1.44 at $113.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The price of crude has fallen more than $30 from its July 11 high of $147.27, easing concerns on Wall Street about inflation — but on Tuesday, the anxiety over the financial sector overwhelmed any relief about oil prices.

The Dow fell 139.88, or 1.19 percent, to 11,642.47. Broader stock indicators also declined. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 15.73, or 1.21 percent, to 1,289.59, and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 9.34, or 0.38 percent, to 2,430.61.

Bond prices rose as stocks fell and investors, once again uneasy about the financial sector, when back in search of safer investments. In late trading, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.90 percent from 4.00 percent late Monday.

The dollar was higher against most other major currencies, while gold prices fell.

A Commerce Department report showed the nation’s trade deficit shrank in June, rather than growing as expected. The trade imbalance dropped 4.1 percent to $56.8 billion in June from a revised May deficit of $59.2 billion, as exports rose to an all-time high. It was the smallest deficit in three months and was better than the $61.5 billion Wall Street expected.

JPMorgan fell $3.90, or 9.3 percent, to $37.99. The stock plunged in late trading after Ladenburg Thalman analyst Richard X. Bove lowered his earnings estimates for the year.

Goldman Sachs declined $11.21, or 6.3 percent, to $166.79 after the analyst downgrades of some of its ratings.

Wachovia Corp. fell $2.17, or 11.9 percent, to $16.04 after it announced plans to cut 600 more jobs than it previously expected as it tries to slash costs because of losses on mortgage debt. The bank also said in a quarterly regulatory filing that it has recorded an additional $500 million in legal reserves related to its settlement discussions with regulators concerning the sale of auction-rate securities.

UBS fell $1.34, or 6.2 percent, to $20.35. The company also said it will separate its divisions such as private banking and investment banking to bolster investor confidence.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume was virtually unchanged from Monday’s 4.98 billion shares.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 6.12, or 0.81 percent, to 744.94.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 0.95 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.13 percent, Germany’s DAX index declined 0.36 percent, and France’s CAC-40 fell 0.44 percent.

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