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Uncertainty guides mixed market

NEW YORK – Wall Street turned in a mixed performance Tuesday after a fresh report on retail sales and a new oil price record told investors the same old story: The economy is hurting and costs are rising, but things could be worse.

“The numbers are coming out weak, but the economy’s not falling apart,” said Alexander Paris, economist and market analyst for Chicago-based Barrington Research. “On balance, they were negative, but you’d expect them to be.”

Oil prices, meanwhile, spiked to a trading record of $126.98 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after Iranian news services reported Iran is considering a cut to output. They later settled up $1.57 at $125.80.

Tuesday’s wavering trading in the stock market reflected its ongoing uncertainty about the economy. Brian Gendreau, investment strategist for ING Investment Management, believes investors won’t get a clear picture until more data is released in June and July.

“We’re going to go through a period where the markets are going to focus on the macro-data, and any adverse piece of news about the credit markets,” he said. “It will be a trendless market until the uncertainties about a contraction in economic activity are resolved.”

According to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, turmoil in financial markets has eased somewhat. He noted during his speech in Atlanta that the markets for certain mortgage-backed securities, such as those backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as some fixed-rate mortgages and corporate debt have improved. He did say, though, that the situation remains “far from normal.”

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 44.13, or 0.34 percent, to 12,832.18, having soared 130 points on Monday.

Broader indexes closed mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.54, or 0.04 percent, to 1,403.04, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.63, or 0.27 percent, to 2,495.12.

Government bond prices fell as the Treasury market focused on the better-than-expected details in the retail sales report. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.91 percent from 3.80 percent late Monday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 3.62, or 0.49 percent, to 736.85.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 3.86 billion shares, up from 3.27 billion shares Monday.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average fell 1.53 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 slid 0.14 percent, Germany’s DAX index rose 0.34 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.45 percent.


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