by Marc Bastow | June 21, 2012 4:49 pm
Well, that didn’t last very long, did it?
U.S. markets lost what little luster they took from Wednesday’s session, as economic data from far (China) and wide (Europe) added to domestic woes and disappointment in what amounted to a piling-on session. All told, investors drove the major indices down hard on the day. When it was over, 28 of the Dow Jones Industrials 30 stocks posted losses.
For the record, the Dow lost 1.96% to close at 12,573, while the S&P sank 2.23% to 1,325. The Nasdaq was the day’s biggest loser, giving up 2.44% to 2,859.
For starters, U.S. economic data showed manufacturing in the Philadelphia region shrank in June at the fastest pace in almost a year; sales of previously owned U.S. homes declined in May; more Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week; and — worse — the four-week average of new jobless claims climbed again, to 386,500. That’s the highest level since the end of 2011.
Plus, prices of gold and silver dropped on the day, with gold prices slumping well under $1,600 per ounce. And oil closed not only under $80 but below $79, to $78.20 — its low since last October.
Meanwhile, Europe’s PMI index for June remained near a three-year low, as manufacturing output in Germany — the most important European economy — dropped for the second straight month and at the fastest rate in three years.
Finally, according to a preliminary report of the HSBC Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, Chinese manufacturing fell to a seven-month low, yet another sign that factories there are being hit by sluggish global demand.
Tack on concerns over corporate earnings and forecasts, a report by Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) telling investors to short, or sell, the S&P 500 until it falls at least 5% below current levels, and you have a case for sagging if not sinking, stock prices.
Leading the charge on those fronts were Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY), which tumbled 17% after its earnings forecast trailed projections, and Red Hat (NASDAQ:RHT), the largest seller of the open-source Linux operating system, which slumped 6% as billings missed some estimates. Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) followed both down after posting a fourth straight quarterly loss, closing 7.75% lower on the day.
Oil’s drop added to the market woes, as commodity-related stocks took a big hit. Shares of ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron(NYSE:CVX) closed down over 3%, and Alcoa (NYSE:AA) dropped 4.25% by the end of the day.
ConAgra (NYSE:CAG) bucked the trend, rising 2.6% as the maker of Hebrew National hot dogs forecast profit that was higher than analysts projected.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he was long XOM.
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