Stocks have their worst week since October

Sunday, December 20, 2009

U.S. stocks fell last week, handing the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index its biggest weekly decline since October, as Citigroup sold stock at a discount and Best Buy and FedEx predicted decreased profitability.

Higher-than-estimated earnings at Oracle and forecasts from Research in Motion pushed the S&P index slightly higher Friday, limiting the weekly slump. Citigroup sank 14 percent, the most in the S&P 500, after the U.S. government delayed selling its stake in the bank. Best Buy, the largest electronics retailer, retreated 11 percent as it cut prices. FedEx slid 3.4 percent.

The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent to 1102.47, its biggest decline since the last week of October. The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 142.61 points, or 1.4 percent, to 10,328.89. The Nasdaq composite index gained 1 percent, to 2211.69.

"The market saw the bank offering as slightly negative because there's no shareholder value in going ahead and repaying the TARP money immediately," said Christopher Rowane, who helps manage $14 billion at Huntington Asset Advisors in Cincinnati, in reference to the Troubled Assets Relief Program. "These offerings are going to be very dilutive."

Stocks fell around the world as S&P cut Greece's credit rating, driving the MSCI World Index to a 1 percent loss for the week. The worsening outlook abroad helped push the U.S. dollar to its strongest level since September vs. the euro as investors fled risky assets. Gold dropped 0.8 percent to $1,111.50 an ounce for a third straight week of losses.

The Treasury will auction $30 billion of three-month bills and $31 billion of six-month bills on Monday. They yielded 0.05 percent and 0.15 percent, respectively, in when-issued trading. One-month bills will be sold the next day.

-- Bloomberg News

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