Stocks Fall for Fifth Straight Session
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks sustained deep losses Tuesday with eurozone worries once again front and center amid growing trepidation about Spain's economic stability.
All three major U.S. equity indices lost ground for a fifth straight trading session. Sentiment took an abrupt turn for the worse after European stock markets finished with sharp drops. Traditional safe havens drew buyers with bonds and gold on the rise.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 214 points, or 1.7%, to close at 12,716. The S&P 500 fell 24 points, or 1.7% to close at 1359. The Nasdaq plunged 56 points, or 1.8%, at 2991, surrendering the 3000 level for the first time since March 13.
The 10-year Treasury bond rose 18/32, pushing the yield down to 1.98%, its first trip below 2% since March 12.
Breadth within the Dow was extremely negative with only one of of the index's 30 components -- Hewlett Packard
Profits came in at 10 cents per share on revenues of $6 billion on improved productivity and market conditions. Alcoa was expected to post a loss of 4 cents a share on revenue of $5.77 billion. Shares were rebounding 4% in the extended session.
Bank of America
On the New York Stock Exchange, decliners outnumbered advancers by more than 6-to-1 ratio, while the Nasdaq exchange had five losers for every gainer. The VIX, known as Wall Street's fear gauge, was up more than 8% at 20.39, breaking above the 20 level, which is seen as indicative of rising fear, for the first time since March 7. The index measures the implied volatility of options activity in the S&P 500.
The weakness extended losses on Monday in the wake of Friday's disappointing jobs report. The Dow posted its first finish below 13,000 since March 12 after the government announced that nonfarm payrolls increased 120,000 in March, far short of the consensus view for a 200,000 gain.
The driver for Tuesday's nervousness about Europe was a spike in the yield on Spanish ten-year bonds in the secondary market to 5.93% from 5.74% as Central Bank Governor Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez warned that the nation's banks may require more capital if the economy continues its downward slide. The economy is expected shrink 1.7% or worse as the government enforces its severe austerity measures.
European stocks endured a brutal sell-off into the close, with the London's FTSE declining 2.2% while Germany's DAX fell 2.5%.
Economic news in the U.S. was not pleasant either. The National Federation of Independent Business said its business optimism index declined to a reading of 92.5 in March from February's 94.3, the first drop in six months. As owners grew more doubtful about sales and profits, hiring plans were also put on hold.
Elsewhere on the economic front, the Commerce Department said wholesale inventories rose 0.9% in February, slightly above expectations for a 0.5% increase, according to a survey conducted by Thomson Reuters.
Corporate quarterly reports will be the main source of tension in the markets throughout the week. Expectations are fairly low for the first quarter. According to Thomson Reuters, the blended estimate is for year-over-year growth of 3.1% from the S&P 500, down from 9.2% in the fourth quarter. The debate now is whether that low bar might provide a positive catalyst to counter any blips in the economic data.
"Any time you have low expectations in the midst of a strong rally that leaves potential upside if companies can even slightly beat expectations," says Joe Bell, senior equity analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "With low expectations, we think earnings will either come in line or beat, and that could mean another strong quarter."
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In corporate news, shares of Supervalu
The Internet company said last week it would be slashing 2,000 jobs.
Shares of Vivus
In other news, presidential candidate Rick Santorum announced Tuesday afternoon that he is suspending his bid for the presidential nomination of the Republican party.
Earlier In Asia, Japan's Nikkei index slid 0.09% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 1.2%. This, amid the Bank of Japan's collective vote down of more monetary stimulus and China's surprise trade surplus as imports weakened to year-over-year growth of 5.3% in March compared with February's much better 39.6%, inspiring more concerns about a China slowdown.
May oil futures slipped $1.44 to $101.02 a barrel, while June gold futures erased earlier losses to rise $16.8 to settle at $1,660.7 an ounce.
The dollar index was up 0.13%.
-- Written by Andrea Tse and Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York.
>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.