Stocks End Lower

Investors were unsettled by downbeat news from the tech sector and disappointing job growth in June

Stocks ended lower on Friday on negative news from the tech sector and a report showing that the U.S. economy in June created fewer than half the number of jobs the market had expected.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished lower by 51.33 points, or 0.50%, to 10,282.83. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.56 points, or 0.32%, to 1,125.38. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index lost 8.89 points, or 0.44%, to 2,006.66.

Trading was light on Friday as traders took off early for the Independence Day weekend. Markets will be closed on Monday.

Looking ahead, next week marks the beginning of the second-quarter earnings reporting season. First out of the gate among high profile companies on Wednesday will be Internet company Yahoo (YHOO ), aluminium outfit Alcoa (AA ), Pepsi Bottling (PBG ), and diversified conglomerate General Electric (GE ).

Meantime, economic news will be a little more subdued. An index of non manufacturing activity on Tuesday is expected to show a slight decline. And on Thursday will be a report on jobless claims for the week ending July 3.

The market slumped on Friday after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported only 112,000 jobs were created in June, well below market estimates, raising concern about the strength of the economic recovery. Economic research firm Informa Global Markets had been expecting 265,000 new nonfarm jobs. The BLS revised downward April and May new-job totals to 324,000 and 235,000 respectively, from 346,000 and 248,000.

"Labor demand cooled a bit in June," says Informa, which looks for market expectations "to shift toward the Fed taking some meetings off in its tightening process."

The unemployment rate held steady at 5.6%, as expected. In tech news, Apple Computer (AAPL ) said its next-generation iMac computer will miss its internal shipping schedule.

Intel (INTC ) was hurt after Deutsche Bank lowered its investment rating on the stock to hold from buy, citing supply chain uncertainties.

And Bell carrier Verizon Communications (VZ ) said in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it overstated first-quarter long-distance lines by about 1.5 million because of a technical systems error.

Pharmacy benefits provider Caremark Rx (CMX ) said the attorney general of Washington state was seeking information from the company about its business practices.

There was some positive news on the tech front. The Semiconductor Industry Association, which represents U.S. semiconductor companies, said worldwide sales of chips rose 36.9% to $17.32 billion in May, which was the highest level since December, 2000. The industry group also said fundamentals are healthy and that it sees strong growth through the rest of 2004.

Treasury Market

Treasury surged higher in a holiday-shortened session, with yields solidly lower, on the soft June payrolls report. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note moved lower by 11 basis points, to 4.46%.

World Markets

European stock markets closed lower on Friday. London's FTSE 100 index was off 17.30 points, or 0.39%, to 4,407.40 following a HBOS report that housing prices rose more than 21% over past 3 months, which the slowest pace since last November. Morrison was lower after a company issued a shock profit warning. Sainsbury was lower after issuing a warning yesterday. Legal & General higher as UK new business rose 20% in the second quarter. Barclays was higher after Morgan Stanley recommended the stock.

Germany's DAX index eased 36.25 points, or 0.90%, to 3,998.77 following a report that Eurozone May producer price index rose more than expected 0.6% in May after rising 0.4% in April. Traders were a bit unnerved by Tokyo slide overnight. Volkswagen was down after reporting lower June auto sales. RWE was higher after completing sale of a 20% stake in Swiss power group Motor Colombus to UBS. Commerzbank was lower after CEO announces his group is examining a complete takeover of BHF-Bank.

In Paris, the CAC 40 index lost 31.14 points, or 0.84%, to 3,685.06 as some were disturbed by the Eurozone PPI release and GM reported lower June sales. Carrefour and Casino were lower. Alstom was up a bit. AFP reports the EC could approve Alstom's rescue plan proposed by the French government. Rhodia was higher after appointing Bruno Mouclier as the group's new CFO.

Asian markets finished lower on Friday. In Japan, the Nikkei index lost 174.52 points, or 1.47%, to close at 11,721.49.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index eased 65.62 points, or 0.53%, or 12,220.13.

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