Stocks End Lower

Geopolitical concerns overshadowed some positive economic news

Stocks ended lower as geopolitical concerns sparked by more apparent terrorist explosions in Istanbul overshadowed upbeat news about the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 71.04 points, or 0.73%, to 9,619.42. The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 17.73 points, or 0.93% to 1,881.92. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index eased 8.79 points, or 0.84%, to 1,033.65.

On Friday, the earnings calendar is fairly light with doughnut retailer Krispy Kreme (KKD ) among the few major companies to report.

There is no significant economic data scheduled to be released on Friday.

On Thursday, investors were cheered by news that the index of U.S. leading economic indicators jumped 0.4% in October following a revised flat reading in September (from -0.1% previously). Seven of the 10 components that make up the index were unchanged or increased, with jobless claims and building permits posting the biggest gains.

Meanwhile, the jobs picture in the U.S. improved for the week ended Nov. 15. Individuals filing for first time jobless benefits dropped 15,000 to 355,000 for the week.

The data are yet further confirmation of the strength in the economy and bode well for future growth as well, notes economic research firm MMS International.

But positive news on the economy couldn't overshadow the latest violence in the Middle East. Before the session began, two blasts in Turkey's capital killed about two dozen people and appeared directed at British interests since both the HSBC bank headquarters and British consulate were targeted. The blasts marked the second such attack in Turkey within a week.

In equities news, computer maker Hewlett-Packard (HPQ ) said its quarterly net income more than doubled on 10% higher revenues thanks to a better showing from its personal computer unit and increased sales of printers.

Telecom firm Qwest Communications (Q ) posted a third quarter profit of $1.8 billion after a loss last year thanks to the sale of its QwestDex directory service operations.

Personal and home electronics retailer Sharper Image (SHRP ) swung into profit for the third quarter because of rising demand for its proprietary products.

Smithfield Foods (SFD ), the nation's largest hog and pork producer, posted a huge jump in quarterly profits, helped largely by results from its beef operations.

Peanut butter and jelly maker J.M. Smucker Co. (SJM ) reported 10% higher quarterly on higher sales and lower interest costs.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT ) posted a third quarter loss from charges for staff cuts, manufacturing consolidations and a loss in its North American tire unit.

In other economics news, the Philadelphia Fed index of manufacturing activity dipped to 25.9 in November from 28.0 in October. New orders fell to 20.8 from 29.0. The employment index fell to 3.3 from 5.5. Prices paid rose to 24.9 from 22.3. MMS International notes that while the current data are much weaker than expected, especially considering the jump in the Empire State index earlier in the week, the future index of activity rose to 63.4 from 55.5.

Treasury Market

Bonds ended higher on the lower close in equities. There wasn't much positive impact on Treasuries from the disappointing Philly Fed data, reports MMS. Longer dated securities continue to outperform.

World Markets

European stock markets ended lower on Thursday after the Turkey blasts. London's Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100 index was down 19.40 points, or 0.45%, to 4,308.

In Paris, the CAC 40 lost 18.99 points, or 0.57%, to 3,324.39.

Germany's DAX index was down 14.25 points, or 0.39%, to 3,638.04.

Asian stock markets finished mixed. Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 251.10 points, or 2.61%, to finish at 9,865.70.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index gave up 154.27 points, or 1.28%, to finish at 11,872.99.

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