Stocks ended lower heading into the weekend as investors held their breath amid what promises to be a chaotic partisan battle in Washington DC over the federal budget.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was off 0.41 percent, closing the day at 1,691.75 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.46 percent lower to 15,258.24, and the NASDAQ lost 0.15 percent to 3,781.59.
Friday’s economic data points consisted of the Department of Commerce’s consumer spending index that showed Americans spending more money in August for the fourth consecutive month, bolstered by a sharp 0.4 percent rise in personal income. At the same time, the University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment dropped significantly from July’s reading of 82.1 to an August reading of 77.5, half a basis point shy of expectations.
J.C. Penney suffered the S&P 500’s most heavily traded loss on the day, hemorrhaging another 13 percent of its share price amid serious doubts about the company’s future. The company dropped about 30 percent during the week.
Major chemicals manufacturers Air Products & Chemicals Inc. (APD) and Dow Chemical Group (DOW) also ended the day lower, along with others in the basic materials sector, such as Cliff’s Natural Resources (CLF) and United States Steel Corp. (X) . On the upside, Nike (NKE) gained nearly five percent after releasing another strong earnings report.
Tech shares kept the Dow lower, with the index’s three worst performers being Cisco Systems (CSCO) , Intel Corporation (INTC) , and IBM Corp. (IBM) taking heavy losses.
Shipping stocks ran ashore on the NASDAQ after what had looked to be an incredible week. NewLead Holdings Ltd. (NEWL) dropped nearly 20 percent, followed by FreeSeas Inc. (FREE) and DryShips Inc. (DRYS) . Apple (AAPL) created some pressure by shedding nearly 1 percent.
Former smartphone leader BlackBerry (BBRY) ended the day up 1 percent after releasing a third-quarter earnings report earlier in the day that showed the company besting what were admittedly dismal analyst expectations. The company is expected to be taken private in the near future by Canadian investment firm Fairfax Holdings Ltd.