- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wall Street closed mixed Monday, with the Dow falling below 8,000, dragged down partly because of more jobs on the chopping block.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average pared its losses by the close, ending down 64.11, or 0.80 percent, to 7,936.75. The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 18.01, or 1.22 percent, to 1,494.43. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 dipped 0.45, or 0.05 percent, to 825.43.

The midday announcement by Macy’s Inc., the nation’s biggest department store chain, that it was cutting 7,000 jobs - 40 percent of them executive positions - and slashing its dividend from 13.25 cents to 5 cents kept the Dow from recouping more of its early losses and soured the stocks of other major retailers. Industrials also slumped, but tech stocks did well, among them Verizon, Microsoft and Intel.

It marked the worst day for the Dow since Nov. 20, CNBC said. Volume was light.

The price of a barrel of light, sweet crude oil dropped below $41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, which could mean lower costs for gas.

In a spot of good news, a private group’s manufacturing index increased to 35.6 in January from an upwardly revised 32.9 in December, but economic activity in manufacturing failed to grow last month for the 12th consecutive month.

The 35.6 reading by the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, was better than the 32.6 forecast by economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

“Comments from our respondents indicate that it will take a recovery in automobiles and housing for the manufacturing sector to once again prosper,” wrote Norbert J. Ore, chairman of the group’s Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

“On a positive note, the prices index continues to indicate significant deflation in the prices that manufacturers have to pay for their inputs, and this should ultimately be good for the consumer,” Mr. Ore wrote.

On the corporate side, toy maker Mattel said its profits for the fourth quarter of 2008, which includes the Christmas shopping season, fell a whopping 46 percent. Consumers just were not spending.

Humana Inc., the health insurer, said its profits during the same October-to-December period dropped 28 percent.

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