Most U.S. Stocks Drop

Most U.S. stocks fell, snapping a two- day gain, as concern President Barack Obama’s stimulus package won’t be enough to pull the nation out of a recession outweighed a rally in financial and industrial shares., Bloomberg 2/9/2009 1:27:07 PM

Coca-Cola Co. slid 2.9 percent after a suitor called off its $4.9 billion offer for an Australian Coke bottler. Home Depot Inc., the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, and Caterpillar Inc., the biggest maker of construction equipment, fell more than 1.6 percent. Lennar Corp. and Centex Corp. tumbled at least 5.4 percent after analysts downgraded the homebuilders.

About 11 stocks fell for every 10 that gained on the New York Stock Exchange. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index increased 0.2 percent to 869.89. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 9.72 points, or 0.1 percent, to 8,270.87 and the Russell 2000 Index of small companies slipped 0.6 percent.

Benchmark indexes drifted between gains and losses for most of the day as an advance in financial shares offset declines in consumer companies. Stocks snapped four straight weeks of losses last week on speculation the deteriorating economy will force Congress to reach a compromise on Obama’s stimulus package.

The S&P 500 has climbed 16 percent from an 11-year low on Nov. 20. The benchmark dropped 38 percent last year, its worst performance since the Great Depression. The S&P 500, Dow and MSCI World Index posted their steepest January declines as companies reported disappointing earnings and the U.S. economy shrank at the fastest pace in 26 years.