Stocks tumbled yesterday on disappointing retail sales and a rise in oil prices as investors, worried about oil's impact on consumer spending, took profits from the market's July rally.
Many of the nation's retailers reported only modest sales gains as hot weather stifled demand for fall fashions and as many consumers spent their money at auto dealers instead of malls. Investors were wondering whether retailers' results were a sign that consumers might finally be feeling the pinch from high gasoline and energy prices. Those concerns were exacerbated by another rise in crude oil futures, which once again neared all-time highs.
However, with stocks still near four-year highs, analysts said the sell-off was unlikely the start of a major downward trend.
The Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest drop in a month and the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index retreated from a four-year high. The Dow fell 87.49, or 0.8 percent, to 10,610.10. The S&P 500 slid 9.18, or 0.7 percent, to 1235.86. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 25.49, or 1.1 percent, to 2191.32, for its biggest retreat in two months.
Target, the No. 2 U.S. discount retailer, declined $1.58, to $56.09. Sales last month gained 5.5 percent, trailing the 5.7 percent expected by analysts. Larger competitor Wal-Mart Stores slipped 39 cents, to $49.29, even as its sales beat estimates.
Nordstrom fell $3, or 8.2 percent, to $33.45, for the biggest drop in the S&P 500. The chain said July sales rose 3.6 percent; analysts expected a 5.4 percent gain. J.C. Penney dropped $2.50, to $53.92, as sales increased 1.6 percent, shy of the 2.4 percent estimates.
Gillette dropped 75 cents, to $52.20, despite a 17 percent rise in second-quarter profit. Procter & Gamble, which is acquiring Gillette, fell 83 cents, to $54.17.
Prudential Financial slid $1.42, to $66.43. The insurance company's earnings exceeded Wall Street forecasts, but investors were disappointed by the company's full-year earnings forecasts.
Delphi rallied 54 cents, or 10.3 percent, to $5.78. The auto-parts manufacturer had the best performance in the S&P 500.
New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 51.36, to 7515.18.
American Stock Exchange index rose 13.15, to 1649.50.
Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks fell 11.54, to 671.84.
NYSE: 1.96 billion shares, down from 2.01 billion on Wednesday. Decliners outnumbered advancers 2 to 1.
Nasdaq: 1.62 billion shares, down from 1.79 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers 7 to 3.
Crude oil for September delivery: $61.38, up 52 cents.
Gold for current delivery: $437.90 a troy ounce, up from $436.90 on Wednesday.