Stocks end worst week in six with another down day

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Stocks closed out their worst week in six with a whimper on Friday, slumping toward the close as economic data gave little reason to reverse a string of sell-offs.

In a thinly traded session, indexes posted their fourth day of losses though selling pressure was limited in the Dow by strength in Bank of America Corp (BAC.N: ).

U.S. retail sales rebounded last month, as did the overall July Consumer Price Index, but the data was consistent with an economy that has slowed in recent months.

Positive corporate earnings and improved technicals helped the market rally through July and early August, but sentiment soured this week and stocks turned negative for the year after a darker assessment of the economy by the Federal Reserve and renewed concerns about China’s economic growth rate.

For the week, the Dow fell 3.3 percent, while the S&P slid 3.8 percent and the Nasdaq lost 5 percent.

“We’ve seen a succession of bad news this week that was punctuated by the Fed’s comments, so while we have some semblance of self-sufficiency, it’s clear we’ll be in a slow-growth period for a long time,” said Steven Baffico, senior managing director at Claymore Securities in Lisle, Illinois.

The S&P 500 relinquished its hold on the 200-day moving average that had generated some positive momentum and was trading below its 50-day moving average on Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) dropped 16.80 points, or 0.16 percent, to 10,303.15. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (.SPX: ) dropped 4.36 points, or 0.40 percent, to 1,079.25. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) dropped 16.79 points, or 0.77 percent, to 2,173.48.

Consumer sentiment stabilized this month after a sharp drop in July, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys’ preliminary August reading showed. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said business inventories rose slightly more than expected in June.

Alan Gayle, the senior investment strategist at the Richmond, Virginia-based RidgeWorth Investment, said that even though sentiment was better than expected in the month, it was coming off of a low level, which “suggests that consumers remain very uncertain in this environment.”

Bank of America was the Dow’s top percentage gainer, rising 1.3 percent to $13.23.

The S&P Consumer Discretionary index (.GSPD: ) fell 1.1 percent after the data and disappointing outlooks from both Nordstrom Inc (JWN.N: ) and J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N: ). Nordstrom tumbled 7.2 percent to $31.05 and Penney lost 4.7 percent to $19.82.

The S&P Retail index (.RLX: ) slid 1.4 percent while the S&P Department store sub-industry index (.GSPRETD: ) slumped 3.2 percent.

Retailers will remain in focus next week, as a number of sector bellwethers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N: ), Gap Inc (GPS.N: ) and Target Corp (TGT.N: ) are scheduled to report their quarterly results.

Apollo Group Inc (APOL.O: ) was the top percentage loser in the Nasdaq 100 (.NDX: ), falling 3.8 percent to $38.94 alongside other education companies. The sector was hit as brokerages cut price targets on the stocks and the government said it would hire more investigators to prevent fraud by for-profit colleges.

Eli Lilly and Co (LLY.N: ) fell 2.5 percent to $35.70 after the drugmaker lost a patent case that cleared the way for generic competition for Strattera, its attention deficit disorder drug.

On the upside, shares of both Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O: ) and Rambus Inc (RMBS.O: ) rallied after Rambus granted patent licenses to Nvidia, raising hopes for an end to a lengthy legal battle.

Nvidia shot up 4.8 percent to $9.39 while Rambus gained 3.8 percent to $18.71.

Volume was extremely light, with only 5.98 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, well below last year’s estimated daily average of 9.65 billion.

Decliners slightly outnumbered advancers on the New York Stock Exchange by a ratio of about 8-to-7, while on the Nasdaq, about nine stocks fell for every four that rose.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan Paschal)

Stocks end worst week in six with another down day