Stocks Retreat as Data Disappoints
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks slumped Thursday with shaky data on employment, manufacturing and housing raising fresh questions about the health of the U.S. economy.
Early gains in the wake of a smooth Spanish debt sale and largely positive earnings reports evaporated with investors turning their focus to another underwhelming jobless claims report, a shortfall in existing home sales last month and a bland read on manufacturing in the Philadelphia region.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 69 points, or 0.5%, to close at 12,964, bouncing nearly 70 points after scraping a session low of 12,897.
Apple(AAPL) shares continued their recent run of volatility, falling back below $600 in afternoon trades. The stock closed at $587.44, down 3.4% on volume of nearly 30 million as some apprehension leaking into the market about its fiscal second-quarter results due next Tuesday.
"The fact that economic data is not continuously going up, up, up is not really just a warning to us, but at some point investors are going to have to sort of reassess this U.S.-economy-is-doing-just-fine theory that's been gaining steam since late last year, because the last three weeks of economic data reports have not been all that good," cautions Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG.
After the closing bell, Microsoft(MSFT) reported better than expected earnings, sending its stock up 3% in the extended session.
Spain ended up selling €2.54 billion of two-year and 10-year bonds, which came in higher than the targeted range of €1.5 billion to €2.5 billion. The Spanish government was able to sell the 10-year bonds at an average yield of about 5.7%, whereby demand for the security was about 2.4 times what was sold versus about 2.2 times at a Jan. 19 auction. The average yield for the two-year was about 3.5%.
"European bond auctions went a little better than people had feared, but by the same token we see news stories that Spanish banks are running out of the cash that they were using -- they had borrowed from the ECB to go out and buy Spanish and European sovereign bonds," says Brian Gendreau, market strategist, Cetera Financial Group.