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S&P, DJIA Off for 5th Consecutive Day as Good News Brings Taper Anxiety

Stocks ended lower across the board on Thursday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down for the fifth consecutive day as yet more upbeat economic
Michael Teague is a staff writer for Equities.com. His previous experience includes three years as the associate editor of Los Angeles-based Al Jadid Magazine, a bi-annual review of the arts & culture of the Middle East, where he contributed many articles on the region in the form of features and book & film reviews. His educational background includes a BA in French literature from the University of California, Irvine, where he developed a startling proclivity for anything having to do with the 19th century.
Michael Teague is a staff writer for Equities.com. His previous experience includes three years as the associate editor of Los Angeles-based Al Jadid Magazine, a bi-annual review of the arts & culture of the Middle East, where he contributed many articles on the region in the form of features and book & film reviews. His educational background includes a BA in French literature from the University of California, Irvine, where he developed a startling proclivity for anything having to do with the 19th century.

Stocks ended lower across the board on Thursday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average down for the fifth consecutive day as yet more upbeat economic data heightened investor anxiety over reductions in the Fed’s fiscal stimulus program.

The S&P 500 was 0.43 percent lower at 1,785.03 points, while the Dow Industrials were off by the same to 15,821.51 points, and the NASDAQ lost 0.12 percent to 4,033.17.

The morning saw the release of the Department of Labor’s weekly jobless claims report, showing filings for first-time benefits dropped, the 7th decline in 8 weeks, by some 23,000, contradicting expectations for an increase of about the same amount. Continuing claims were also significantly lower.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released its GDP report that showing the US economy growing 3.6 percent during the recently-ended period, far outpacing the expected 2.8 percent expansion. The combination of the day’s data with data released earlier in the week and ahead of tomorrow’s Employment Situation report gave investors the jitters about the possibility of earlier date for the tapering of fiscal stimulus.

On the S&P 500, J.C. Penney (JCP) continued its slide, down 8.5 percent by the bell and leading services and consumer goods stocks lower in the face of expectations for an underwhelming holiday shopping season. Safeway (SWY) , The Kroger Co. (KR) , and Best Buy (BBY) were among the benchmark’s biggest losers on the day.

The Dow’s only real bright spot on the day was semiconductor giant Intel (INTC) with shares adding over 2 percent on news that the market for tablets is becoming saturated, while the PC/laptop market may finally be either near or at its bottom. Microsoft (MSFT) lead the Dow’s losers, down some 2.40 percent by the close on news that Ford Motors (F) CEO Alan Mulally would not in fact be accepted a job as the top executive of the former tech giant.

On the NASDAQ, Apple Inc. (AAPL) was up about 0.60 percent after news of a deal between the iPhone-maker and China’s biggest mobile network. This was not a rising tide that lifted all boats, however, as tech shares were the worst-performing on the exchange, with heavy declines for Cisco Systems (CSCO) , Blackberry (BBRY) , GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) , and Micron Technology (MU) .

Electronics retailer Conns Inc. (CONN) was a rare positive story in retail, jumping almost 20 percent and hitting all-time highs after its third quarter earnings report handily beat expectations.