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The Journal Gazette

  • FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 file photo, traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Stock markets around the world are mixed, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. Investors in Japan took profits following a huge rally, while those in China pulled back ahead of a weeklong holiday. However, European markets are higher in early trading. Futures point to a rise when trading opens on Wall Street Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Thursday, February 07, 2013 11:16 am

Weak earnings outweigh jobs news; stocks slide


Stocks slumped on Wall Street Thursday, suggesting that the rally which has pushed indexes close to record levels may have run its course. A decline in applications for unemployment benefits failed to stem the decline.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 95 points at 13,890 as of 11:13 a.m. The Standard and Poor's 500 fell nine points to 1,502 and the Nasdaq composite dropped 23 points to 3,144.

Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, a sign that layoffs are easing. Applications for unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to 366,000. Worker productivity also shrank in the final three months of 2012, although the decline was caused by temporary factors.

"We had such a big January, some type of weakness, or consolidation, make sense here to us," said Ryan Detrick of Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati.

The S&P 500 has lost an average of 0.58 percent in February over the last 20 years, making it the weakest month for stocks, according to research by Schaeffer's.

News Corp. fell 63 cents to $27.59 after the media conglomerate cut its forecast for annual earnings. The company said weakness at several businesses, including its Fox broadcast network, would offset a gain in earnings in the most recent quarter. Auto parts retailer O'Reilly Automotive surged $9.36 to $101.900 after it reported earnings late Wednesday that beat analysts' forecasts.

Stocks are down since the start of the week. The Dow has shed 1 percent and the S&P 0.8 percent, paring their gains since the start of the year. The Dow is still up 5.9 percent since the start of the year, and the broader S&P 500 is 5.3 percent higher.

While stocks have gained, U.S. government bonds have declined as investors move money into riskier assets. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, rose 1 basis point Thursday to 1.97 percent, keeping it close to a 10-year high.

Among other stocks making big moves;

- Akamai Technologies Inc., which helps websites deliver online content, plunged $6.71 to $34.91, after reporting earnings late Wednesday. Net income rose, but revenue missed forecasts.