By Kristina Peterson
U.S. stocks fell Friday, paced by companies with strong international exposure, as the euro sank to a one-month low and the dollar surged.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now firmly in the red for the week, as disappointing jobs and manufacturing data wiped out gains from excitement over a resurgence in global merger activity.
"We've had this very substantial divergence between company reports and what the macro data are saying over the course of the past month," said Keith Hembre, chief economist and chief investment strategist at First American Funds of Minneapolis. "The data just point to very little in the way of growth here in the third quarter."
Multinational companies with overseas operations led Friday's declines as the euro weakened. The common currency fell after a European Central Bank official suggested monetary policy should remain loose until next year.
The Dow (DJI) fell 75 points, or 0.7%, to 10,196. Among the measure's worst performers, manufacturing giant 3M (MMM) shed 1.6%, Caterpillar (CAT) fell 1.4% and aluminum producer Alcoa (AA) dropped 1.1%.
The euro fell to a one-month low against the dollar after Deutsche Bundesbank president Axel Weber said the speed of the European Central Bank's withdrawal from its anti-crisis measures will depend on the health of the euro area's banks, in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Friday. Weber's comments suggest that even hawks on the ECB's governing council are still more concerned about the fragility of the euro area's banks than they are about inflation.
The euro (CUR_EURUSD) was recently trading at $1.2683, down from $1.2819 late Thursday in New York. The U.S. dollar index (DXY), which tracks the currency against a basket of six others, jumped 0.9%. Demand for safe-haven Treasurys rose, pushing yield on the 10-year note (UST10Y) down to 2.57%.
The Nasdaq Composite Index (RIXF) shed 0.4% to 2,169. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (SPX) dropped 0.6% to 1,068.
Energy stocks weakened as crude-oil prices fell more than 1% to below $74 a barrel. Drilling contractor Nabors Industries (NBR) fell 3.4%, while Halliburton (HAL) slid 3% and Denbury Resources (DNR) fell 2.6%.
The technology sector posted a more modest loss. Computer giant Dell (DELL) edged up 0.2% after posting double-digit profit growth in its fiscal second quarter and reiterating a recovery in enterprise and government sales was under way. However, investors were spooked by shrinking gross margins, primarily because of higher component costs.
Chip maker Intel (INTC) rose 0.1%, erasing a sliver of its Thursday bruising after the company agreed to acquire computer-security software company McAfee (MFE).
However, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) dropped 2.2%, even as its profit climbed 6.1% on higher worldwide sales in its fiscal third quarter, the technology giant's final quarter with Mark Hurd at its helm. But investors have been skittish about H-P since Hurd left the company two weeks ago, during which the stock has lost about 12% of its value.