Losing Streak Stretches to Four Weeks

Sunday, July 12, 2009

U.S. stocks fell for a fourth consecutive week, matching the longest stretch of declines over the past several years, as consumer sentiment dropped more than estimated and as oil's steepest retreat since January dragged down energy shares.

Sears Holdings lost 8.2 percent as confidence among consumers dropped with unemployment approaching 10 percent.

Exxon Mobil slid 4.9 percent as oil tumbled on concern that the recession will sap demand. American International Group plunged 36 percent as Citigroup said the insurer may have no value for shareholders after repaying the government, and CIT Group declined 23 percent on concern that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will not rescue the commercial lender.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index retreated 1.9 percent, to 879.13, the lowest level since May 1. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 134.22 points, or 1.6 percent, to 8146.52. The Nasdaq composite index lost 2.3 percent, to 1756.03.

"Our intermediate-term view is that the market is still vulnerable," said Janet Engels, who helps oversee $123.7 billion at RBC Wealth Management in New York. "There's concern about what we're going to hear from corporate America on earnings."

Alcoa, the first Dow company to report earnings, dropped 1.3 percent in the two days after posting its third straight quarterly loss. Goldman Sachs Group, J.P. Morgan Chase, IBM and Google are among 34 companies in the S&P 500 scheduled to report this week.

Profits shrank an average of 35 percent at S&P 500 companies in the second quarter and will decrease 21 percent from July through September, according to analyst projections compiled by Bloomberg. Earnings slumped 33 percent during the first three months of 2009, and plunged 61 percent from October through December 2008.

-- Bloomberg News

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