Sun, Jun 12, 2005 - Page 10 News List

US stocks close mixed on concern over national deficit


US stocks drifted to a mixed finish on Friday as Wall Street worried about the impact of high oil prices on the nation's trade deficit and Intel Corp's bullish sales forecast prompted some profit-taking. The major indexes were also mixed for the week.

Investors were concerned that high oil prices, which helped boost the April trade deficit by 6 percent, would further weigh on the economy and drag on stocks. According to the US Commerce Department, the trade deficit rose to US$56.96 billion from US$53.56 billion in March. While that was a smaller increase than expected, oil imports rose to the second-highest level on record -- enough to raise concerns that high oil prices would weigh on consumer spending as well as business costs.

Despite US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's relatively positive assessment of the economy on Thursday, Wall Street's economic worries were not assuaged, and many investors were hoping for better news from second-quarter earnings and, ideally, stronger economic data in the weeks ahead.

"The values are no longer there, the economy is slowing, interest rates are taking their toll and are starting to slow economic growth," said Steven Goldman, chief market strategist at Weeden & Co. "The market is not going to be as resilient; gains aren't as sustainable, action is choppier."

The Dow Jones rose 9.61, or 0.09 percent, to 10,512.63.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.82, or 0.23 percent, to 1,198.11, and the NASDAQ composite index lost 13.91, or 0.67 percent, to 2,063.00.

Bonds sold off heavily as investors continued to react to Greenspan's bullish assessment of the economy on Thursday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 4.04 percent from 3.95 percent late Thursday. The dollar fell against most major currencies, while gold prices rose.

The week's trading was marked by a lack of hard economic news and continued uncertainty over the health of the economy, despite Greenspan's forecast. For the week, the Dow rose 0.49 percent, the S&P climbed 0.17 percent and the NASDAQ lost 0.41 percent.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies was up 0.10, or 0.02 percent, at 626.33.

The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index -- a free-float weighted index that measures 5,000 US-based companies -- ended the week at 11,875.98, up 32.04 points from last week. A year ago the index was 11,045.95.

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