Earlier today, news said that New York investors can’t shake their worries that economy won’t be able to lock in a recovery by the end of the year. Stocks finished mostly lower after zigzagging for much of the day. A mixed outlook on the economy from the International Monetary Fund and falling commodity prices added to the downbeat mood.
The tone could improve Thursday thanks to a narrower-than-expected loss from Alcoa Inc., news said, which ushered in the second quarter earnings season after the closing bell Wednesday. The aluminum producer’s shares rose 6 percent in after-hours trading. Most of the traders will also be watching retail sales figures coming out Thursday to see if slippage in consumer confidence translated into a weaker take at cash registers.
Another tumble in oil prices dragged energy shares lower on Wednesday and reflected concerns that demand for resources will remain weak as the economy struggles. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange, but major indicators ended mixed. The Dow Jones industrials rose 14.81, or 0.2 percent, to 8,178.41. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 1.47, or 0.2 percent, to 879.56 and the Nasdaq composite index rose 1.00, or 0.1 percent, to 1,747.17. Both the Dow and S&P 500 hit levels not seen since May 1.
Stocks drew some support from a strong auction of 10-year Treasury notes. That helped allay one of the market’s recent worries, that the government would have trouble finding enough buyers for the massive amount of debt it’s issuing. But investors also flocked to the safety of government debt because they are worried about the economy.
After sending stocks soaring this spring on the belief that the economy was turning around, investors have put their buying on hold since mid-June as several pieces of disappointing economic data eroded the case for a quick recovery. “There’s nothing to get people to jump into the market,” said Kurt Karl, chief U.S. economist at Swiss Re. “Nothing to get them excited.”
The market has already digested the most recent batch of economic news, including worse-than-expected reports on employment and manufacturing, and is becoming anxious ahead of second-quarter earnings season and the forecasts from companies that are sure to be the next big test for stocks. Many analysts say a recovery is indeed on its way — investors just need to be more realistic about its pace.