The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s manufacturing index decreased 0.7 in April to 1.3, well below expectations of a rise to 4.0, while the labor department reported that jobless benefit claims rose slightly by 4000.
Meanwhile, independent business research association The Conference Board reported its Leading Economic Index that measures U.S. economic growth dropped 0.1 percent in March, in contrast with expectations of a 0.2 percent gain.
The concentration of bad news that has accumulated throughout the week and resulting poor performance of stocks and commodities is beginning to confirm predictions of a pullback from the first quarter’s spectacular, and somewhat unprecedented gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered a loss of 0.56 percent, to 14,537.14, pressured by technology stocks.
Hewlett-Packard was down 1.61 percent to $20.16, while International Business Machines dropped 1.17 percent to $207.22 ahead of its much anticipated earnings report.
Health care provider UnitedHealth Group (UNH) led losses with a drop of 3.76 percent to $59.70, as the company reported a 14 percent drop in first quarter earnings, while Bank of America (BAC) continued its decline after Wednesday’s announcement of a lawsuit settlement, dropping 2.26 percent to $11.44.
Verizon (VZ) was a bright spot, gaining 2.77 percent to $50.09 after reporting an increase in earnings and besting expectations, as well as indicating that it too had offered its own bid to purchase the broadband services provider Clearwire Corporation (CLWR).
The S&P 500 was down 0.67 percent to 1,541.62, led by eBay Inc. (EBAY) who lost 5.81 percent to $52.84 after coming up short on earnings expectations, and cutting its guidance for the current quarter.
Morgan Stanley (MS) took a serious hit, losing 5.40 percent to $20.31 even though the bank beat analyst expectations. Trading bonds and commodities, however, dropped 42 percent from the prior year period, a problem that has affected many of the big banks during the present earnings season.
The Nasdaq took in the day’s biggest losses, down 1.20 percent to 3,166.09, weighted heavily by Facebook's (FB) shares that were down 3.51 percent to $25.69. Blackberry (BBRY) also dropped 2.95 percent to $13.50, while Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NWSA) was down 1.95 percent to $30.41.
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