Stocks Trip on Oil, Earnings

U.S. stocks fell Monday, for the first time in six sessions, as a sharp rebound in oil prices and a disappointing outlook from Lowe's Cos. Inc. (LOW), the No. 2 U.S. home improvement chain, raised fears about slower consumer spending.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 36.42 points, or 0.32 percent, to close at 11,345.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index declined 4.78 points, or 0.37 percent, to finish at 1,297.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 16.20 points, or 0.75 percent, to end at 2,147.75.

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Lowe's fell nearly 4 percent, dragging down shares of larger rival Home Depot Inc. (HD) Lowe's cut its sales and earnings outlook and reported second-quarter profit below estimates, offering yet another sign of weakness in the housing sector.

The Dow Jones Home Construction Index fell 2.9 percent.

Crude oil prices rose more than $1 as Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, said it would press ahead with its nuclear program, indicating it will not heed a U.N. demand to stop enriching uranium.

"Higher oil prices and Lowe's brought back uncertainty about consumer spending and the economy, and uncertainty brought sellers to the stock market," said Warren Simpson, managing director at Stephens Capital Management in Little Rock, Arkansas.

After dipping below $70 a barrel last week, U.S. crude oil for September delivery added $1.31 to settle at $72.45 a barrel. Iran also said it will respond formally Tuesday to a package of incentives from six world powers offered in return for an end to its uranium enrichment program.

Higher oil prices tend to weigh on the broader stock market because they mean increased costs for business and consumers, but they also lift shares of energy companies.

Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), the world's biggest publicly traded oil company and a Dow component, rose 1.1 percent, or 73 cents, to $69.83 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares of defensive companies, which tend to perform relatively well even in an economic downturn, also gained. Procter & Gamble Co. (PG), whose products include Tide detergent and Pampers disposable diapers, rose 0.7 percent, or 39 cents, to $60.78 on the NYSE.

But shares of Lowe's dropped nearly 4 percent, or $1.17, to $28.35 on the NYSE and ranked among the heaviest weights on the S&P 500. Shares of rival Home Depot fell 1.4 percent, or 47 cents, to $34.30 and helped pull the blue-chip Dow average lower. The stock of American Standard Cos. Inc. (ASD), whose products include kitchen and bathroom fixtures, shed 1.7 percent, or 70 cents, to $40.32.

Ford Motor Co. (F) shares fell 6.6 percent, or 53 cents, to $7.47 after analysts at investment banks, including Goldman Sachs (GS), suggested investors sell the stock.

On the Nasdaq, shares of Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) fell 2 percent, or $1.35, to $66.56 as technology stocks reversed gains that sent the Nasdaq up Friday to its best weekly close in three years.

Volume on the NYSE was light, with 1.11 billion shares changing hands, well below last year's daily average of 1.61 billion shares. On Nasdaq, about 1.35 billion shares traded, also below last year's daily average of 1.80 billion.

Decliners outnumbered advancers by a ratio of about 7 to 5 on the NYSE, while on Nasdaq, about two stocks fell for every one that rose.

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