U.S. Stocks Retreat on Recession Concern


U.S. stocks fell for the fourth time in five days on concern the Federal Reserve will fail to prevent a recession as oil climbed above $110 a barrel, pushing down refiners, retailers and banks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 211 points from its midday high as oil rose. Sunoco Inc., the largest refiner in the U.S. Northeast, dropped the most since 1995 after Caris & Co. said demand may decrease. Humana Inc. led shares of health insurers to a three-year low on a reduced earnings forecast. Financial firms, which led the market to its biggest gain in five years yesterday, helped erase a quarter of that rally.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index lost 11.88 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,308.77. The Dow slipped 46.57 points, or 0.4 percent, to 12,110.24. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 11.89, or 0.5 percent, to 2,243.87. Two stocks dropped for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Nine of 10 industries in the S&P 500 fell after Merrill Lynch & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and others said the Fed's plan may not eliminate gridlock in credit markets. The S&P 500 rallied the most since October 2002 yesterday after the central bank said it would pump $200 billion into the banking system to shore up financial firms battered by $188 million in losses and writedowns related to the subprime mortgage market's collapse.

The Russell 2000 Index, a benchmark for companies with a median market value 22 times smaller than members of the S&P 500, dropped 1 percent. The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Index, the broadest measure of U.S. shares, fell 0.8 percent to 13,179.46. Based on its decline, the value of stocks decreased by $134 billion.


TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
3/12/2008 3:52:28 PM