Stocks Decline on Rising Oil, Tech Losses
NEW YORK – Stocks fell Friday as oil prices hit a new record for the fifth straight day, raising concerns it may slow economic growth and hurt corporate profits, while a weak revenue outlook from computer maker Dell (DELL) pressured technology shares.
The Dow Jones industrial average (search) ended down 85.58 points, or 0.80 percent, at 10,600.31. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (search) fell 7.42 points, or 0.60 percent, to 1,230.39. The technology-laced Nasdaq Composite Index (search) was down 17.65 points, or 0.81 percent, at 2,156.90.
Despite their slides on Friday, the Dow and S&P 500 closed in positive territory for the week. The Dow rose 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 advanced 0.32 percent.
"The volatility we're seeing has nothing to do with investors; it has everything to do with traders," said Sandy Lincoln, chief market strategist at Wayne Hummer Asset Management. "Investors are thinking two, three, four, five or 10 years out. Traders are thinking two, four, five or 10 hours out."
Crude oil futures hit new records on reports of U.S. refinery outages. A barrel of light crude was quoted at $67.10, up $1.30, before settling $1.06 higher at $66.86 on the New York Mercantile Exchange (search).
"U.S. companies and consumers will have to take money from somewhere to pay for higher energy costs," said Martin Yokosawa, a senior portfolio manager at Oberweis Asset Management in Lisle, Illinois.
"They may buy fewer computers, fewer jeans, take less vacation. But it will certainly have an impact on the economy and of course, on markets."
Crude has hit fresh all-time highs everyday this week. The Reuters CRB commodity price index jumped to a 25-year high, boosted by surging crude prices.High energy costs can squeeze companies' profits and dampen consumer spending but they boost shares of oil majors.
Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) rose 10 cents to $61.05 and ConocoPhillips (COP) climbed 22 cents to $66.62. The American Stock Exchange index of energy companies gained 0.25 percent.
Shares of Dell (DELL), the world's largest maker of personal computers, dropped 7.4 percent to $36.64, its biggest one-day percentage drop in almost four years. Dell was the heaviest drag oaq Composite Index was down 17.65 points, or 0.81 percent, at 2,156.90.
On Friday, computer hardware was one of the hardest hit sectors in the Standard & Poor's 500, with Dell rivals Gateway Inc. (GTW) falling 1 percent to $3.81 and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) slipping nearly 1 percent to $24.03.
"Dell is one of the largest tech companies and there is carry over fear," said David Katz, chief investment officer at Matrix Asset Advisors, suggesting that if Dell is having problems then rivals may be facing similar issues.
Among other tech stocks falling, chip maker Intel Corp. (INTC) dropped nearly 2 percent to $26.31 and Internet equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) fell 1.4 percent to $17.80.
Investors were also displeased after the Commerce Department (search) reported the trade deficit, the imbalance between what America sells abroad and what it imports, is running higher than last year's all-time record. The trade deficit rose to $58.8 billion in June, an increase of 6.1 percent from the May deficit of $55.4 billion.
More than half the trade deficit deterioration in June reflected America's surging foreign oil bill, which hit a record high of $19.9 billion, an increase of almost 10 percent from May. Analysts say surging oil prices will send that figure higher in coming months.
The market has been watching oil prices obsessively, afraid that higher energy costs could lower consumer spending and increase business expenses.
Investors are beginning to see hints those fears may be realized. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed for an AP-AOL poll expect fuel costs will cause them financial hardship in coming months. In April, only half those surveyed felt that way.
In other economic data, a report from the University of Michigan (search) showed a decline in consumer confidence this month to 92.7 from this year's high of 96.5 in July. Economists expected the index to drop 96.
McDonald's (MCD) sagged $1.44 to $33.25 after analysts said the chain was unlikely to sell store locations and other property to rumored suitor Vornado Realty Trust. The stock had risen Wednesday on reports of a possible deal.
But fellow Dow component United Technologies Corp. (UTX) rose 0.3 percent to $51.78 after Banc of America raised its rating on the industrial and aerospace conglomerate to "buy" from "neutral."
Maytag Corp. (MYG) said it will back an offer by Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) to purchase Maytag for around $1.7 billion, or $21 a share, according to published reports. Maytag rose 22 cents to $19.01; Whirlpool rose $3.70 to $84.40.
Striking British Airways PLC (BAB) employees returned to work at London's Heathrow Airport after a strike left 70,000 travelers stranded. The stock fell 16 cents to $52.67. The disruption of British Airways' flights started Thursday after some of the staff joined an industrial dispute between the airline's caterer and its work force.
On the NYSE, about 1.3 billion shares changed hands, below last year's daily average of 1.46 billion, while on Nasdaq, about 1.58 billion shares traded, below last year's daily average of 1.81 billion.
Decliners outpaced advancers by a ratio of about 2-to-1 on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq.The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 6.37, or 0.96 percent, to 660.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.01 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain's FTSE 100 was down 0.24 percent, Germany's DAX index was down 0.34 percent, and France's CAC-40 was down 0.72 percent.
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.