Markets ended the month with yet another loss, driven by disappointing reports across a range of economic indicators, a lack of positive news from Europe and investors fleeing the market looking for a safer haven. May was the worst month to date for 2012, with a 6.67% loss, and it marks the third year in the last four in which markets lost ground in May.
Gold finished down in May, marking an unprecedented fourth straight month of losses, and to complete the Triple Crown of Fear, the 10-Year U.S. Treasury Bond yield sank at one point to 1.54%, the lowest since 1944.
For the record, the Dow finished Thursday down 26, or 0.21%, to 12,393. The S&P lost 3, or 0.23%, to 1,310. And the Nasdaq dropped 10, or 0.35%, to 2,827.
A rise in new jobless claims and a weaker private hiring picture from ADP darkened the mood on Wall Street, and a Commerce Department report showed the economy grew at a slower pace (1.9%) than previously reported (2.2%) in the first three months of the year, raising new concerns about economic weakness. GDP growth is significantly slower than the 3% rate of the final three months of last year.
On Friday, the government will release the closely watched May jobs report. Analysts surveyed by CNNMoney expect that the U.S. economy added 150,000 jobs in May, including 12,000 government job cuts. The unemployment rate is expected to stay at 8.1%.
Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) was once again a big loser, dropping for a second straight day, this time down 2.85% to $87.62 as investors continue to worry about a slowdown in orders, particularly from overseas. Both Deere (NYSE:DE) and Cummins Engine (NYSE: CMI) fell on those same fears, dropping a shade over 2% each on the day.
After spending the day treading water and finding a low of $26.83, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) shares came to life in late-day trading, surging up 5% to $29.60 with no particular news or events pointing to a reason.
Not all the news was bleak, as shoppers actually found their way to retail stores in May, evidenced by an increase in same-store sales as reported by Thompson Reuters. Unfortunately, the news did little to excite investors, as shares of Macy’s (NYSE:M), Limited Brands (NYSE:LTD) and Sak’s (NYSE:SKS) all finished down marginally. Upscale retailer Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) sank 5% despite a 5.3% rise in same-store sales, well above analyst expectations of 2.5%.
The good news: Tomorrow is June 1.
- Ciena (NASDAQ:CIEN): Up 14.06% ($1.67) to $13.55
- JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU): Up 9.87% (47 cents) to $5.23
- Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA): Up 6.64% (39 cents) to $6.26
- Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI): Down 8.25% (57 cents) to $6.34
- First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR): Down 6.27% (84 cents) to $12.56
- Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX): Down 5.79% ($3.90) to $63.44
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he does not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.