Economic Woes Rattle Wall Street
Stocks struggled through a losing session Tuesday as economic concerns, magnified by the dollar’s slump, discouraged investors.
A few companies were rewarded for reporting healthy quarterly results but a broad range of stocks suffered losses.
The Dow Jones industrial average declined 16.25 to 4,179.13.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 4 to 3 on the NYSE where volume came to 344.46 million shares as of 4 p.m. Eastern time. On Monday, 333.93 million shares changed hands on the NYSE floor.
Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer at First Albany Corp., said investors have begun to express misgivings about the durability of the economic expansion.
New government data on the housing industry raised concerns. The Commerce Department report showed housing starts plunged 7.9 percent in March to a two-year low despite falling mortgage rates.
While Wall Street recently has welcomed signs of slower growth as reassurance that the Federal Reserve will refrain from raising interest rates again in the near future, the housing report was troubling, Johnson said.
One fear is that the ailing dollar eventually will need Fed support in the form of higher rates, which could trigger a recession.
Some of the stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily Tuesday:
Johnson & Johnson, up 2 1/8 to 62 5/8.
The company reported improved earnings. It earned $1.02 a share in the first quarter, up from 85 cents a year earlier.
Procter & Gamble, up 1 1/4 to 67 7/8.
The big consumer products company announced it would raise the list pricing of its tissue and towel brands due to higher pulp costs.
Merrill Lynch, up 7/8 to 44 1/4.
The stock was in the spotlight on the day the big securities firm reported quarterly results. It earned $1.08 a share in the first quarter, down from $1.68 a share a year earlier. Merrill also boosted its dividend.
Intel, up 5-16 to 94 5-16.
The company posted a 44 percent jump in first-quarter earnings as demand for its Pentium chip boosted revenue.
Cheyenne Software, down 1 to 14 7/8.
The company disclosed that the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a formal order of private investigation to probe possible securities violations, extending an informal inquiry begun in June 1994.
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