- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Wall Street posted losses Monday as the markets again followed the direction of financial stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 8,418.77, down 155.88 points. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed at 909.26, down 19.97 points, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 1,731.24, down 7.76 points.

The major markets are up roughly 25 percent in the past two months after first-quarter reports by major U.S. banks that were better than expected, then upbeat reports last week on unemployment and the health of the country’s largest 19 financial institutions.

Analysts said investors appeared to cash in Monday on profits made last week or were concerned about three healthy banks - U.S. Bancorp, Capital One Financial Corp. and BB&T Corp. - planning to issue billions in stock shares to help repay the federal bailout loans they have received.

U.S. Bancorp stocks closed at $18.50, down $2.04 a share.

Last week, the Dow closed at 8,574.65, up 362.24 points. The S&P closed at 929.23, up 51.71 points, and the Nasdaq closed at 1,739, up 19.80 points.

The recent gains appear to show that the worst of the recession might be over, but investors remain cautious and the markets still are down significantly from their October 2007 highs.

Investors this week will focus on consumer spending and more first-quarter reports from major retailers including Wal-Mart and Macy’s Inc.

Last week, Target Corp. and Wal-Mart reported some upbeat numbers.

Target said net sales for April were $4.45 million, 4.5 percent higher than in April 2008. Wal-Mart reported domestic sales of $63.15 million, compared with $59.66 million in April 2008.

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