- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Wall Street easily digested reports Monday of expected plummeting sales for December by the auto industry but the Dow turned south when telecom and financial stocks slumped.

Market indexes held their own for most of the day, with both the tech-heavy Nasdaq and the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 inching into positive territory. But they soured during late trading along with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which dipped below the 9,000 mark that it had passed Friday.

The Dow dropped 81.80, or 0.91 percent, to 8,952.89. The Nasdaq fell 4.18, or 0.26 percent, to 1,628.03. The S&P; sank 4.35, or 0.47 percent, to 927.45.

President-elect Barack Obama’s planned stimulus package.

“We learned our lessons from the [Depression era] and we’re applying them,” he said.

The Dow lost ground after AT&T;, saying it expected slower wireless growth this year. Both companies are Dow components.

Financials took a hit after Deutsche Bank cut its earnings estimates for 16 big commercial banks this year.

A Commerce Department report showing that construction spending dropped 0.6 percent in November was half of what economists had expected, apparently bringing some relief to investors because the major market indexes moved up from their lows. They had been down more than 1 percent in early trading.

Automakers, as expected, did poorly in sales for December and all of 2008, save for Honda fared worst in December.

The authoritative auto Web site Ford Motor Co.’s sales plunged 32 percent in December and sales of 1.98 million vehicles in 2008 marked a drop of 21 percent, about half a million fewer than in 2007. Toyota Motor Corp.’s sales plummeted 37 percent in December and fell 16 percent to 2.22 million vehicles for 2008. The figures meant that Ford stood as the nation’s No. 3 automaker for the second successive year.

Honda sales dropped 35 percent in December and fell 8.2 percent for all of last year.

The news came as little surprise to the stock markets or consumers, who have kept their wallets closed all across the retail sector amid fears about further job losses and because of tight credit, which has made it more difficult for potential buyers to get loans.

But, in a bright spot, Subaru reported that although its sales fell by 7.7 percent in December, sales for all of 2008 rose by 0.3 percent to 187,699 vehicles from 187,208 in 2007. The Japanese company may be the only major automaker to report higher sales for last year.

New York Stock Exchange.

The weakening worldwide economy also dealt a possible blow to those who care about the finer things in life: The classic maker of china and crystal, Waterford Wedgwood PLC, filed for bankruptcy protection because it was unable to find a buyer after three years of losses.

The firm also produces the well-known brands of Royal Doulton and Rosenthal porcelain.

The company, whose origins in Indonesia.

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