- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wall Street closed Tuesday with mixed results, struggling to extend its two-month rally.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 8,469.11, up 50.34 points. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed at 908.35, down 0.89 points, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 1,715.92, down 15.32 points.

The results followed losses Monday, including the Dow’s loss of more than 155 points, to close at 8,418.77.

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 19 largest financial institutions.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. trade deficit increased in March to $27.58 billion from the revised February figure of $26.13 billion, the first increase since July 2008.

In addition, the National Association of Realtors reported that nearly 90 percent of metropolitan areas nationwide reported a decrease in the price of single-family homes during the start of 2009.

The group said the median price in 134 of 152 metropolitan areas in the first quarter was $169,000 - 13.8 percent less than during the similar period in 2008.

However, analysts said investors appeared to be more focused on the possible results of key economic indicators due later this week, including retail-sales reports and a government report on inflation.

Macy’s first-quarter report is due Wednesday, and Wal-Mart’s is due Thursday.

Investors focus on retailers’ monthly, quarterly and annual sales reports because consumer spending accounts for roughly two-thirds of the U.S. economy.

The markets’ 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.

Analysts attributed the losses Monday to investors possibly cashing in on last week’s profits or being concerned about four healthy banks planning to put billions of dollars worth of stock shares into the markets to help repay the federal bailout loans they have received.

Ford Motor Co., the lone Big Three automaker that did not need federal bailout money, also plans to raise capital by offering common stock.

Ford stock was down $1.07, to $5.01 a share, at the close of trading.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 1.62 percent, Britain’s FTSE 100 increased 0.22 percent, Germany’s DAX index increased 0.26 percent, and France’s CAC-40 increased 0.54 percent.

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