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Stocks trade flat after 5 days of gains

September 12, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — Stocks slipped in quiet trading Friday, ending a five-session rally, despite an upbeat profit forecast by an economic bellwether and a government report showing improving sales at wholesalers.

Even with Friday's declines, stock indexes still logged big gains for the week.

Shares of FedEx jumped 6.4% after the package delivery company offered an improved outlook, citing stronger international shipments and cost-cutting for the improvement. FedEx's results are widely considered an indicator of the overall economy's health.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that sales at the wholesale level rose in July by the biggest amount in more than a year, even though inventories fell for a record 11th straight month.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 22.07 points, or 0.2%, to 9,605.41 after closing Thursday at its highest level since October.

Because of the steep slide in share prices that began last fall, stocks are still stuck at about the same level they were at eight years ago.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.41, or 0.1%, to 1,042.73, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 3.12, or 0.2%, to 2,080.90.

The Russell 2,000 index of smaller companies fell 0.2%.

About four stocks rose for every three that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

For the week, the Dow rose 1.7%, the S&P 500 index added 2.6%, the Nasdaq rose 3.1% and the Russell 2,000 climbed 4%.

The S&P 500, a benchmark for many mutual funds, is up 54% since hitting a 12-year low in March but remains down 33% from its peak in October 2007.

The Dow's close Friday was nearly identical to its finish Sept. 10, 2001, the day before the 9/11 attacks, illustrating how hard the stock market was hit by the latest recession.

Counting dividend payments on the Dow's 30 member stocks, however, the index is up 21% during that span of eight years and a day.

A rush of economic data next week could help investors determine whether the expected economic rebound is on track.

Reports are due on retail sales, industrial production, housing and inflation.

The government bond market was mixed Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note edged up to 3.34% from 3.33% late Thursday.

In the commodity markets, oil futures tumbled $2.65, or 3.7%, to settle at $69.29 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The slide in crude hurt some energy stocks, which supported the market for much of the week. Oil giant Exxon Mobil fell 67 cents, or 1%, to $69.98.

Electronics retailer Best Buy slumped 3.1% after an Oppenheimer analyst lowered his rating on the stock, noting it had been trading near the top of its 52-week range.

Overseas, key stock indexes rose 0.5% in Britain and Germany and 0.8% in France. Japanese shares fell 0.7%.

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