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 U.S. Stocks Drop on Unexpected Loss of Jobs; Energy Shares Fall

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Female Number of posts : 7
Registration date : 2008-03-08

PostSubject: U.S. Stocks Drop on Unexpected Loss of Jobs; Energy Shares Fall   Sat Mar 08, 2008 6:20 pm

By Elizabeth Stanton
March 7 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks fell for a second day after the biggest drop in jobs since 2003 sent energy and mining companies lower, overshadowing an advance in banks spurred by a Federal Reserve plan to make more cash available to lenders.
Chevron Corp., Alcoa Inc. and Boeing Co. led declines that sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average below 12,000 for the first time in two months and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to its lowest level since August 2006. Wells Fargo & Co. and CIT Group Inc. gained, helping spur a 2.5 percent advance in financial stocks during the final 90 minutes of trading.
The S&P 500 retreated 10.97 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,293.37. The Dow average lost 146.7, or 1.2 percent, to 11,893.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 8.01, or 0.4 percent, to 2,212.49. About five shares fell for every three that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
``This is definitely bad news,'' Ed Peters, chief investment officer at PanAgora Asset Management in Boston, which manages $25 billion, said of the jobs report. ``It increases the chance for a real recession happening if consumers start to pull back significantly.''
The S&P 500 extended its weekly decline to 2.8 percent after the Labor Department reported a loss of 63,000 jobs last month, defying economists forecasts for a gain of 23,000. The benchmark for U.S. equities is down 12 percent this year on concern that the first decline in home prices since the Great Depression and record foreclosures will curb bank lending. The Dow fell 3 percent for the week and the Nasdaq lost 2.6 percent.
Alcoa, Freeport
Alcoa fell $1.77, or 4.6 percent, to $36.60 for the biggest decline in the Dow average. Analysts at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. lowered their recommendation to ``market perform'' from ``outperform,'' citing concern metal prices will decline. The brokerage also downgraded Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. to ``market perform,'' sending shares of the world's second- largest copper producer down $4.46 to $99.88.
Energy companies contributed the most to the S&P 500's decline after crude oil slid 0.3 percent to $105.15 a barrel on concern the U.S. has tipped into a recession. Exxon Mobil Corp., the biggest energy company, fell $2.02 to $82.49. Chevron, the second-biggest, lost $2.54 to $85.26. Schlumberger Ltd., the biggest oilfield-support company, slipped $2.05 to $85.61.
Boeing slid $2.91 to $76.60. The world's second-biggest maker of commercial jets may further postpone delivery of its 787 Dreamliner by several months to the second half of 2009, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analyst Richard Safran.
S&P 500 Forecast
Thomas Lee, chief U.S. equity strategist at JPMorgan Chase & Co., lowered his year-end forecast for the Standard & Poor's 500 Index by 8.8 percent to 1,450, saying the unexpected drop in U.S. payrolls last month signaled the economy has entered a ``short recession.'' Lee's new year-end target implies an 11 percent gain in the S&P 500 from yesterday's closing level of 1,304.34. His previous forecast was 1,590.
``I firmly believe it's a serious bear market,'' said Steve Lehman, manager of the $1.8 billion Federated Market Opportunity Fund. ``Credit booms are followed by credit busts, which are contradictory.''
Banks and brokerage firms limited today's decline. Before the jobs report, the Fed announced additional measures to enable financial institutions to make loans. Banks and securities firms have posted losses of at least $188 billion since the start of last year as the impact of surging defaults on subprime mortgages rippled through world financial markets.
Wells Fargo, CIT
Wells Fargo, the biggest bank on the U.S. West Coast, added 28 cents to $28.11. CIT Group climbed the most since Feb. 1, adding $1.06, or 6.7 percent, to $16.92. The largest independent commercial finance company in the U.S. is well positioned to meet funding needs this year and its stock's valuation is ``irrational,'' Bear Stearns Cos. wrote in a note.
Washington Mutual Inc. fell the most in the S&P 500, dropping $1.05, or 8.9 percent, to $10.71, the lowest since August 1995. The biggest U.S. savings and loan yesterday had its ratings cut by Standard & Poor's to BBB from BBB+, two steps above junk. The rating agency said another cut is possible. Merrill Lynch & Co. reiterated a ``sell'' rating on the stock, saying the company may have $11.2 billion of losses through 2009.
Monsanto Co. slumped $7.96, or 7 percent, to $106.46. About 300 protesters invaded Monsanto's seed research unit in southeastern Brazil to protest Brazil's approval last month for genetically modified corn from Monsanto and Bayer AG for sale and planting, destroying a greenhouse and a testing field.
Coal Drops
Peabody Energy Corp. and Consol Energy Inc. led a decline in coal companies. Coal fell for the first time this year in eastern U.S. spot markets as increased production in South Africa reduced demand for U.S. exports to Europe. Peabody, the largest U.S. coal producer, fell $2.78 to $52.98. Consol fell $3.40 to $74.05.
Southwest Airlines Co. fell 31 cents to $12.19. The largest low-fare carrier, already under scrutiny for failing to check jets for fuselage cracks, may have flown 70 planes for at least a year without rudder-control inspections, Representative James Oberstar, chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in Washington.
National Semiconductor Corp. rose the second-most in the S&P 500, adding $1.91, or 12 percent, to $18.25. The maker of chips for devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPhone reported third-quarter earnings that beat analysts' estimates and said profitability probably will improve in the current period.
Ciena Corp. gained $2.86, or 11 percent, to $27.80 for the third-biggest gain in the S&P 500. The maker of networking equipment said first-quarter profit more than doubled as phone companies spent more on upgrades, and boosted its sales forecast.
Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. climbed 67 cents, or 16 percent, to $4.95. The 156-year-old gunmaker said sales for the quarter ended Jan. 31 increased 23 percent to $66.1 million. Eight analysts estimated sales of $53.1 million, on average, in a Bloomberg survey.
The Russell 2000 Index dropped 0.4 percent to 660.11. The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Index, the broadest measure of U.S. shares, fell 0.9 percent to 13,052.35. Based on its decline, the value of stocks decreased by $140.7 billion.
To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Stanton in New York at Last Updated: March 7, 2008 17:49 EST
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