Stocks dipped again on Wednesday, extending the losing streak among major North American indexes to four straight days.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 12,598.55, down 33.45 points, or 0.3 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1,324.80, down 5.86 points, or 0.4 per cent – following a 17-point reversal from its high earlier in the day. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 11,326.08, down 16.97 points, or 0.2 per cent.
Greece – and the rising likelihood that it will soon exit the euro zone – continues to hang over market sentiment, out-muscling relatively upbeat news closer to home. U.S. housing starts rose 2.6 per cent at an annualized pace in April, topping expectations. As well, U.S. industrial production rose 1.1 per cent in April, well ahead of the 0.6 per cent gain expected by economists.
Meanwhile, the minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting in April suggested that more voting members were open to using another form of policy stimulus if the economic recovery loses momentum.
U.S. financials were among the worst hit: Bank of America Corp. fell 2.6 per cent and JPMorgan Chase & Co. fell 2.2 per cent.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. fell 19.7 per cent after reporting a quarterly loss and suspending its dividend on Tuesday, after markets closed. Abercrombie & Fitch, another U.S. retailer, fell 13 per cent after reporting quarterly sales that missed expectations.
Commodity prices were again weak. Crude oil fell to $92.81 (U.S.) a barrel, down $1.17 – with rising U.S. inventories aggravating the recent decline. Since the start of May, oil has fallen 12.7 per cent. As well, gold is edging toward a bear market. It fell to $1,536.60 an ounce, down $20.50 – bringing its total decline to 19.1 per cent from its record high.
Among commodity producers, Suncor Energy Inc. fell 0.8 per cent but Barrick Gold Corp. rose 1.4 per cent.