By Kristina Peterson
U.S. stocks slid in the final hour of trading Thursday as disappointing earnings dragged down retail and consumer-oriented stocks, and energy stocks sank amid a new lawsuit and uncertainty over the deep-water drilling moratorium.
The Standard & Poor's 500-share index (SPX) was on track to post its fourth straight decline, its longest losing streak in seven weeks, or since the four-week period that ended on May 7. The S&P 500 fell 1.8% to 1,073 in recent trading, breaking below key 1,085 and 1,080 levels. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) declined 1.6% to 2218.
"The market's in glass-half-empty mode," said Steve Sosnick, equity risk manager at Timber Hill LLC/ Interactive Brokers Group LLC. "It just feels sloppy out there and it's not necessarily one piece of news or one piece of legislation, it's more of a malaise."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 153 points, or 1.5%, to 10,145, in recent trading. Pfizer (PFE) was the measure's worst performer, down 3.2% after saying it would suspend osteoarthritis trials of its pain drug tanezumab.
J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) dropped 2.2% and Bank of America (BAC) fell 2.3% as House and Senate lawmakers sought to reach agreement on the final pieces of legislation that is expected to tighten oversight of the financial industry more than many had expected.
Lawmakers agreed on new capital requirements that will give large banks five years to stop treating trust-preferred securities as Tier 1 capital, a key measure of a bank's strength. And a House provision would give the Obama administration immediate authority to levy a fee on banks for any funds that aren't repaid to the Treasury's bank rescue program.
However, Senate negotiators planned to reject a House provision that could force big banks to pay for a wind-down of mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Investors said they would remain uneasy until the bill's final language was hammered out.
Offshore drilling stocks slipped after the U.S. federal judge who earlier this week overturned a six-month ban on deep-water drilling activity denied a motion filed by the Obama administration to allow the ban to stay in place during the appeal process.
The judge on Thursday also denied a motion by plaintiffs to enforce his own injunction. This means the government can file an emergency motion with the appeals court asking it to keep in place the drilling moratorium until the legal fight over the injunction is resolved.
Amid the uncertainty, Diamond Offshore Drilling (DO) tumbled 3.9%, while oil and gas explorer Denbury Resources (DNR) fell 3.3%. Meanwhile, Anadarko Petroleum (APC) fell 4.5% after shareholders filed the first oil spill lawsuit against the oil giant, alleging Anadarko made a series of false and misleading statements in relation with its participation in the broken well.
In the consumer-discretionary sector, Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) dropped 5.2% after its current-quarter earnings outlook fell below analysts' estimates. Nike (NKE) declined 3.9% after the athletic-shoe and apparel maker's revenue growth missed analysts' expectations.
Other retailers also dropped. J.C. Penney (JCP) fell 5.1%, Macy's (M) slipped 5.3% and Nordstrom (JWN) slid 3.1%. Media companies also tumbled. News Corp. (NWSA)(NWS), publisher of MarketWatch and this report, fell 5.9%, Gannett (GCI) slid 5.2% and New York Times (NYT) fell 4%.
U.S. economic data were mixed. In a bigger than expected drop, weekly jobless claims fell by 19,000 to 457,000. But investors said that decline isn't enough to change the labor market's momentum.
"We're just bouncing around in a range with that number," said Mike O'Rourke, chief market strategist at BTIG, an institutional broker. "That's not enough to create the amount of jobs we need to get the unemployment rate down. We need them to get down to the 400,000 or below level."
Separately, there was a smaller-than-expected drop in durable-goods orders and manufacturing activity in the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's district slowed in June.
The euro strengthened to $1.2338 recently. The dollar weakened against both the euro and the yen. Treasurys were mixed, with the two-year note (UST2YR) flat and the 10-year note (UST10Y) down to push yield up to 3.13%. Crude-oil futures edged down, while gold futures advanced.