Stocks mostly lower, but show some weekly gains

February 16, 2008


— U.S. stocks on Friday closed with weekly gains despite extending losses into a second day, dragged down by declines in both U.S. consumer confidence as well as factory activity in the New York region, while a lowered forecast from Best Buy Co., the nation's largest electronics retailer, added to the negative tone.

"There were two ugly numbers reported this morning" said Phil Orlando, equity market strategist at Federated Investors.

Down nearly 100 points during the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28.8 points, or 0.2 percent, to close the week at 12,348.21, giving the blue chips a weekly climb of 1.4 percent.

Lower until Friday's final moments of trade, the S&P; 500 reversed course to gain 1.13 points, or nearly 1 percent, to 1,349.99, giving it a weekly rise of 1.4 percent.

The Nasdaq Composite declined Friday by 10.74 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,321.80, leaving the technology-laden index with a gain of 0.7 percent from a week ago.

Underlying the market's negative tone, Best Buy Co. lowered its 2008 forecast, with the Minneapolis, Minn.-based electronics retailer citing soft customer traffic in January. The company's stock was recently off 2.5 percent.

Best Buy's profit warning pressured retail stocks, with the S&P; Retail Index down 0.6 percent at the close.

"The rally we saw in financials and consumer discretionary was more short covering than anything else," Orlando said. "Those sectors have not yet found a bottom."

That said, absent those two sectors, other market categories are in "pretty good shape," he said. "On balance, earnings are down about 20 percent for the fourth quarter, yet, when you strip out financial services writeoffs and consumer discretionary writeoffs, earnings are positive 10 percent to 15 percent."

In commodities trading, gold futures ended lower, while platinum futures extended their record-breaking run.

Light, sweet crude oil edged up 4 cents to settle at $95.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Treasury bonds mostly rose, putting yields under pressure, as investors fled to the safety of government debt on rekindled worries about the U.S. economy and the credit markets.


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