Stocks tumble on earnings, energy
Published: Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
NEW YORK - Lackluster earnings reports from Dow Jones industrials General Electric Co. and Citigroup Inc. sent stocks plunging Friday, giving the Dow its biggest single-day percentage drop in nine months. The major indexes each lost more than 2 percent this week.
Soaring energy prices compounded the market's gloom over earnings, with crude oil returning to a four-month high on concerns about Iran's nuclear arms dispute. Meanwhile, a tempered outlook from Motorola Inc. also disappointed investors.
While GE and Citigroup's results were just shy of analysts' estimates, the large-cap firms that released earnings this week would have needed blockbuster reports to satisfy Wall Street's overblown expectations, said Rick Pendergraft, an equity trader at Schaeffer's Investment Research.
"The ramp up we had into earnings let you know that people were expecting big things," Pendergraft said of the market's January rally. "Any time we go into an earnings season and the market is overbought, it sends up a caution flag for me."
At the close of trading, the Dow dropped 213.32, or 1.96 percent, to 10,667.39, giving back all of the 325 points it had gained this year. That was the largest one-day decline since April 15, when the index slipped 1.9 percent. It was also the biggest one-day point drop since the Dow lost 307.29 on March 24, 2003.
Broader stock indicators also finished sharply lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 23.55, or 1.83 percent, to 1,261.49, and the Nasdaq dropped 54.11, or 2.35 percent, to 2,247.70.
Bonds were little changed, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipping to 4.35 percent from 4.37 percent late Thursday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies in European trading, while gold prices edged lower.
The situation in Iran and new threats of terrorist attacks on the United States propelled the energy market. A barrel of light crude surged $1.29 to settle at $68.48 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, where natural gas also bounced off recent lows to add 37.5 cents to $9.28 per 1,000 cubic feet.
A larger-than-expected jump in consumer confidence did little to distract traders from earnings and rising crude oil.
The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for January added nearly 2 points to read 93.4.
Wall Street takes dive
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