S&P 500 ends six-day winning streak on "cliff" anxiety

NEW YORK Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:53am IST

1 of 2. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, December 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Stocks

   

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 ended its six-day winning streak on Thursday, retreating as worries intensified that Washington's "fiscal cliff" negotiations were dragging on with little progress.

Anxiety about the drawn-out talks between Democrats and Republicans was enough to offset encouraging data on retail sales and jobless claims on Thursday.

There is concern that tax hikes and spending cuts, set to begin in 2013 if a deal is not reached in Washington, will hurt growth. The stock market has taken the heated rhetoric in stride of late, but downbeat remarks from Republican House Speaker John Boehner prompted some selling on Thursday.

Boehner accused President Barack Obama of "slow walking" the economy off the fiscal cliff. He is scheduled to meet with Obama later on Thursday.

"There is no conviction here and Boehner's comments - as harsh as they were - were realistic," said Jason Weisberg, managing director at Seaport Securities Corp., in New York.

"The fiscal cliff is already built in. That being said, people don't like to be told the apocalypse is coming over and over and over again. The real players in this market have already closed their books."

After coming close to a 1 percent decline for the day, the S&P 500 pared losses late in the session. The index had posted six straight sessions of gains through Wednesday's close, and at one point on Wednesday, the S&P touched its highest intraday level since October 22.

While the Federal Reserve's announcement on Wednesday of a new round of economic stimulus bolstered stocks, Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments that monetary policy would not be sufficient to offset the impact of the fiscal cliff weighed on sentiment.

Apple's stock (AAPL.O), down 1.7 percent at $529.69, was among the biggest drags on the Nasdaq in Thursday's session, while International Business Machines (IBM.N), down 0.5 percent at $191.99, was among the biggest weights on the Dow. A U.S. jury found that Apple's iPhone infringed three patents owned by MobileMedia Ideas.

Among the day's biggest gainers, Best Buy Co (BBY.N) shares shot up 15.9 percent to $14.12 after a report that the company's founder is expected to offer to buy the consumer electronics retailer by the end of the week.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI tumbled 74.73 points, or 0.56 percent, to 13,170.72 at the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 9.03 points, or 0.63 percent, to 1,419.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC slid 21.65 points, or 0.72 percent, to end at 2,992.16.

Energy and information technology sectors were the S&P 500's weakest performers, with the S&P energy index .GSPE down 0.9 percent.

In the energy sector, shares of Nabors Industries Ltd (NBR.N) dropped 4.7 percent to $13.85 after Jefferies cut the drilling company's rating. Shares of U.S. refining company Phillips 66 (PSX.N) lost 1.6 percent to $52.21.

The day's economic data sent some positive signals on the economy, with weekly claims for jobless benefits dropping to nearly the lowest level since February 2008, and retail sales rising in November after an October decline, improving the picture for consumer spending.

In Europe, European Union finance ministers reached agreement to make the European Central Bank the bloc's top banking supervisor, which could boost confidence in EU leaders' ability to confront the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis.

After the bell, shares of Adobe Systems Inc (ADBE.O) rose 5.8 percent to $37.60 after the maker of Photoshop and Acrobat software posted a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit. The stock ended the regular session at $35.53, down 1.2 percent.

Volume was roughly 6.16 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the year-to-date average daily closing volume of 6.52 billion.

Decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a ratio of about 7 to 3, and on the Nasdaq, more than five stocks fell for every three that rose.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry and Jan Paschal)

Religion and Politics

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fund Raising

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

To Boost Growth

To Boost Growth

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.   Full Article 

Bold Steps

Bold Steps

SpiceJet rescue plan marks bold bet on Indian aviation recovery.   Full Article 

New Airline

New Airline

Tata, Singapore Air venture Vistara to take off on Jan 9.  Full Article 

Online Sales

Online Sales

Knock knock. Who's there? Amazon's best-selling holiday author.  Full Article 

Hacking Attack

Hacking Attack

N.Korea says did not hack Sony, wants joint probe with U.S.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage