The Spokesman-Review


Stocks end gloomy 3rd quarter on a weak note

FRIDAY, SEPT. 30, 2011, 2:26 P.M.

NEW YORK — The worst quarter for the stock market since the financial crisis ended on another down note.

Stocks fell broadly today on fresh signs that Europe’s debt problems and the U.S. economy continue to languish. Makers of raw materials, industrial companies and banks — which would have the most to lose if the economy turns sour — had the biggest losses.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 240.60 points, or 2.2 percent, to 10,913.38. Hewlett-Packard Co. fell the most of the 30 stocks in the average, 5.6 percent. Aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. was close behind with a 4.9 percent decline. JPMorgan Chase & Co. fell 4.1 percent.

The broader S&P 500 index shed 28.98, or 2.5 percent, to 1,131.42. All 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 index fell.

The Nasdaq composite index fell 65.36, or 2.6 percent, to 2,415.40.

Markets have been wracked this summer by growing fears about a possible default by Greece and the increasing likelihood of a global recession. Uneven economic data have touched off sudden bouts of buying and selling. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq each lost more than 12 percent this quarter, the first time that’s happened since the financial crisis crested at the end of 2008.

The S&P 500, the benchmark for most U.S. stock mutual funds, has lost 14.3 percent since July 1, the start of the third quarter. That’s the biggest quarterly drop since the three months ended Dec. 31, 2008, when global financial markets seized up. Excluding that period, the S&P has not dropped that much in a quarter for nine years. The Dow dropped 1,500.96 points, or 12.1 percent, over the same time frame.

“The market has really seen some damage this quarter,” said Mike Hurley, portfolio manager of Highland Trend Following Fund.

The weakness appears to be the start of a longer decline, Hurley said, because bonds are increasing in value and interest rates are low. Traders also are selling commodities such as oil, which would lose value in an economic downturn.

“Lower interest rates and commodity prices are definitely an indication that the market thinks economic activity is going to be weak,” Hurley said.



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