June 20, 2009 in Business

Weekly loss is first since early May

Tim Paradis And Sara Lepro Associated Press
 

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 Dow Jones industrial average closed the week down 259.53, or 3.0 percent, at 8,539.73. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 24.98, or 2.6 percent, to 921.23. The Nasdaq composite index fell 31.33, or 1.7 percent, to 1,827.47.

The Russell 2000 index, which tracks the performance of small company stocks, fell 14.11, or 2.7 percent, for the week to 512.72.

The market began Friday stronger, following surprisingly good reports the day before on jobs and manufacturing. But the early gains gave way to afternoon selling, saddling the Dow 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 of options and futures contracts.

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.

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