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VOL. 35 | NO. 25 | Friday, June 24, 2011




Stocks slide on tech earnings, European debt woes

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If weak financial results from big tech companies are sign of what's to come, stock indexes are in for a tough summer.

Stocks fell Friday after poor earnings reports from technology companies. Those results suggested that companies invested less in new technology as the economic recovery slowed.

Fears of a spreading European debt crisis also weighed on the markets. Italian bank shares plunged and trading of some companies was halted after Moody's warned that it might downgrade the credit ratings of some Italian banks.

"I think it spooked a lot of people," said Frederick Rizzo, who analyzes European banks for T. Rowe Price, adding that the move by Moody's was expected. "The markets are really emotional right now."

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 94 points, or 0.8 percent, to 11,955 in afternoon trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 13, or 1 percent, to 1,270. The Nasdaq composite fell 30, or 1.1 percent, to 2,656.

The decline erased all of this week's gains for the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P index. The broad stock market is on track for its seventh weekly loss in the last eight weeks.

Technology stocks were broadly lower. Micron Technology Inc. fell nearly 14 percent after the company said lower sales of computer chips hurt its earnings, which were far less than analysts had expected. Oracle Corp. fell 4 percent after its sales of computer hardware fell sharply. Cisco Systems Inc. fell 3 percent, and Microsoft Corp. lost more than 1.5 percent.

Government bond prices rose to their highest level of the year as investors placed a higher-value on relatively safe assets. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped to 2.86 percent.

The U.S. economy has cooled since late April, pulling the stock market down in six of the past seven weeks. Recent reports on housing, employment, manufacturing and retail sales all have been weak. The debt crisis in Greece and fears that China's growth is slowing have also pushed markets lower.

"No one is expecting good news, but if it's worse than expectations, this is really a very shaky market," said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners, a hedge fund.

Landesman expects that the Standard & Poor's 500 index will fall to 1,200 this summer as more companies report second-quarter earnings next month. The last time the S&P 500 crossed that threshold was in December 2010.

Stocks fell despite the fact that the government said the economy grew at a 1.9 percent annual rate in the first quarter, slightly higher than an earlier estimate of 1.8 percent. The figure still indicated very slow growth for a post-recession recovery. Economists expect little improvement in the second quarter, which ends next week.

Still, another government report showed that businesses ordered more machinery, equipment and airplanes in May than in April. Orders of such durable goods increased by 1.9 percent in May after a sharp decline in April.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 0 0
MORTGAGES 0 0 0
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 0 0
BUILDING PERMITS 0 0 0
BANKRUPTCIES 0 0 0
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 0 0
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0