- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 20, 2009

NEW YORK | Caution has once again overcome the stock market.

Stocks finished mixed Friday, leaving all the major indexes with their first weekly loss since early May. Tech, financial and retail stocks gained, while utilities and energy stocks were lower.

The market began the day stronger, following surprisingly good reports the day before on jobs and manufacturing. But the early gains gave way to selling in the afternoon, saddling the Dow Jones industrials with four days of losses over the past five.

With little in the way of corporate or economic news Friday, prospects were poor for restarting a rally that powered the market up as much as 40 percent this spring after hitting its lowest level in more than a decade in early March. Traders have grown worried in recent weeks that an economic recovery may be more subdued than originally hoped and that the huge run-up in stocks may have been overdone.

“There’s no question in my mind that the economy is improving,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors. “But investors are betting on some sideways consolidation rather than a continuation of a sharp spike in share prices.”

Trading was also jumpy because of the occurrence of a quarterly “quadruple witching,” which marks the simultaneous expiration of four different kinds options and futures contracts.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 15.87, or 0.2 percent, to 8,539.73, with 16 of the 30 stocks that make up the average posting losses. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.86, or 0.3 percent, to 921.23 and the Nasdaq composite index gained 19.75, or 1.1 percent, to 1,827.47.

About three stocks rose for every two that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to a heavy 2.13 billion shares, compared with 1.09 billion shares at the end of trading Thursday.

All the major indexes closed the week down for the first time since the week of May 11. The Dow lost 3 percent, the S&P; 500 index fell 2.6 percent, and the Nasdaq shed 1.7 percent.

Stocks tumbled early in the week as a handful of weak economic reports, including news of a seventh straight monthly drop in industrial production, bucked sharply with the gradual improvement traders had grown used to with other economic readings.

Stocks rebounded modestly on Thursday, spurred by a series of better data on economic activity, including a report that showed the overall number of people drawing unemployment benefits fell last week for the first time since early January.

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