Stocks slip after last week’s run-up

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NEW YORK -- Wall Street finished mostly lower Monday, as investors cashed in some gains from last week’s rally and readied for quarterly corporate earnings reports.

The Treasury bond market was closed for the Columbus Day holiday and there was no major economic news to guide investors, so Wall Street remained cautious ahead of the flood of third-quarter results. Aluminum producer Alcoa Inc., one of the 30 Dow Jones industrial average components, kicks off the earnings season on Tuesday.

Earnings are expected to reflect the difficulty some companies have faced -- particularly in the financial and housing sectors -- following upheaval in the credit markets amid overly leverage debt and a souring of some home mortgages. The reports will also give insight into the fourth quarter, which market participants predict will bring more robust growth.

“There’s room for a rally if third-quarter earnings come in stronger than expected, but they do want to see that the fourth quarter is going to be strong as well,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow fell 22.28, or 0.16%, to 14,043.73.

Broader stock indexes were mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 5.01, or 0.32%, to 1,552.58, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 7.05, or 0.25%, to 2,787.37.

Trading volumes were low, with many investors on the sidelines for the holiday. Declining issues outnumbered advancers by nearly 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 850.5 million shares.
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