U.S. stocks fell, driving the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to its longest slump in almost four months, as slower-than-estimated economic growth overshadowed signs the Federal Reserve may provide more stimulus.
Alcoa Inc. (AA) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) slid at least 2.1 percent to pace losses in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow Jones Transportation Average slumped 1.1 percent. Campbell Soup (CPB) Co. decreased 5.3 percent as the world’s largest soup maker’s sales trailed projections. Netflix Inc. (NFLX), the video- streaming and DVD subscription service, sank 5.4 percent after agreeing to sell $400 million in stock and convertible notes.
The S&P 500 declined 0.4 percent to 1,188.04 at 4 p.m. New York time. The gauge lost 5.6 percent in five days. The Dow retreated 53.59 points, or 0.5 percent, to 11,493.72 today.
“Economic growth remains slow,” John Carey, a Boston- based money manager at Pioneer Investments, said in a telephone interview. The firm oversees about $220 billion. “The evidence is not there that the actions of the Fed and the fiscal stimuli have really helped much. Investors remain concerned about Europe. People are getting concerned as they look into next year and wonder what happens to Europe and what happens here.”
Stocks fell as revised Commerce Department figures showed that gross domestic product climbed at a 2 percent annual rate from July through September, less than projected and down from a 2.5 percent prior estimate. Equities briefly turned higher as some Fed officials said the central bank should consider easing policy further, according to minutes of their Nov. 1-2 meeting.
Benchmark gauges also rose earlier today after the International Monetary Fund revamped its credit-line program to encourage countries facing outside shocks to turn to the fund with few conditions attached, as European leaders fail to end their debt turmoil. Michael Meister, finance spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic party, said “we haven’t any new bazooka to pull out of the bag.”
“The IMF has realized there’s an unresolved issue and they are trying to do what they can to keep this from reaching a liquidity crisis,” Peter Sorrentino, a senior fund manager at Huntington Asset Advisors in Cincinnati, which oversees $14.5 billion of assets, said in a telephone interview.
The Morgan Stanley Cyclical Index dropped 0.8 percent amid concern about economic growth. The KBW Bank Index (BKX) retreated 1.3 percent. Bank of America lost 2.2 percent to $5.37. Alcoa declined 2.2 percent to $9.26.
Campbell Soup lost 5.3 percent to $31.84. The company reported fiscal first-quarter sales of $2.16 billion, trailing the average analyst estimate by 2.4 percent, according to Bloomberg data.
Netflix sank 5.4 percent to $70.45. Technology Crossover Ventures will purchase $200 million in zero-coupon senior convertible notes due 2018, and T. Rowe Price (TROW) Associates Inc. funds will buy $200 million in stock. The transactions suggest Netflix’s cash squeeze may last longer than it had anticipated, said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. The company needs to spend more to make its streaming content stand out against a growing list of competitors, he said.
Hewlett-Packard Co. slipped 0.8 percent to $26.65 after losing as much as 6 percent following profit forecasts that missed analysts’ estimates. Meg Whitman, who took over as chief executive officer two months ago, used her first earnings conference call to tell investors they need to lower their expectations. The first-quarter profit forecast (HPQ) and full-year earnings outlook both missed estimates -- a sign the company is still reeling from a technology-spending slump.
The recent retreat in U.S. stocks, led by banks and brokerages, is signaling more losses through the end of the year, a period in which the S&P 500 usually performs best, according to Bank of America Corp.
Financial shares have posted the worst return (SPXL1) this month among the S&P 500’s 10 industries, dropping 9.9 percent through yesterday. The weakness in the group and the benchmark gauge’s decline below 1,200 suggested the index is at risk of sinking to this year’s intraday low of 1,074.77, said Mary Ann Bartels, Bank of America’s head of U.S. technical and market analysis.
“A seasonal year-end rally will likely turn into a Christmas Bah, Humbug,” Bartels wrote in a note to clients yesterday. She sees a 50 percent chance of “a European meltdown” that would send the S&P 500 to as low as 935.
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