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Stocks dip as investors await earnings season

July 08, 2009|Times Wire Services

Stocks tumbled Tuesday along with oil prices on continued concerns about the economy.

Major stock indexes skidded about 2%, while crude futures dropped for the fifth straight trading day. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 161 points to its lowest close since April.

Tech stocks slumped after researcher Gartner Inc. predicted spending on information technology would drop 6% this year.

The Dow sank 161.27 points, or 1.9%, to 8,163.60, its lowest finish since April 28.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 17.69 points, or 2%, to 881.03. The Nasdaq composite index declined 41.23 points, or 2.3%, to 1,746.17.

The Russell 2,000 index of smaller companies fell 2%.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by more than 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume remained light.

Energy stocks slid as oil retreated further from an eight-month high reached last week. Crude futures fell $1.12 to $62.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Shares of Chevron and Exxon Mobil dropped 2.3%, while ConocoPhillips lost 2.1%.

Refiner Valero tumbled 4.7%, and its rival Tesoro sank 5.7%, as gasoline futures marked their lowest close since May 15.

In the tech sector, Microsoft declined 2.9%, and Google lost 3.2%. Gartner's forecast for a 6% drop in 2009 tech spending is worse than the 3.8% decrease that the research firm predicted in March.

Although the global recession shows signs of easing, Gartner said, "IT budgets are still being cut and consumers will need a lot more persuading before they can feel confident enough to loosen their purse strings."

In other market highlights:

* CME Group fell 5.1% and rival futures-exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange lost 11%. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said it would explore the need for restrictions on speculative trading in oil, gas and other energy markets.

* Health insurers in the S&P 500 jumped 4.2% on a report that the Obama administration might yield on its insistence for a government-run plan to compete with managed-care companies. Cigna shot up 7.5%, while Aetna rose 6.3%.

* Amgen soared 13% in after-hours trading. The Thousand Oaks pharmaceutical company said its drug denosumab helped slow bone complications in women with advanced breast cancer.

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