US stocks slide amid concerns of bleak corporate outlook

December 23rd, 2008 - 8:38 am ICT by IANS  

New York, Dec 23 (DPA) US stocks fell Monday amid concerns of a gloomy outlook for fourth-quarter corporate earnings, the future of the car industry and whether government efforts to revive the economy would succeed.Monsanto Co. lost 7.5 percent after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said the recession would impact profits at the world’s largest producer of seeds. Walgreen Co., the second-biggest US drugstore chain, slid 4.2 percent after posting the slowest sales growth in 18 years. Walgreen said its first-quarter net income fell 11 percent and it would limit store openings next year.

Stocks fell sharply in the afternoon, as oil prices plummeted to below $40 a barrel, recovering shortly before the closing bell.

December and January are traditionally the best months for US stock markets, with the first month of the new year typically setting the tone for the rest of the year.

The markets have in the past performed better during the Christmas week - the Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed an average 0.7 percent at the holiday season, compared to a 0.1-percent advance for all four-day periods, Bloomberg financial news agency reported.

But the severe credit crunch has ensured that this is probably the worst holiday season in four decades. On Monday, Macys Inc., Tiffany & Co. and JC Penney Co. fell more than 5.7 percent.

The blue-chip Dow fell 59.42 points, or 0.69 percent, to close at 8,519.69. The S&P 500 shed 16.25 points, or 1.83 percent, to 871.63. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index lost 31.97 points, or 2.04 percent, to end at 1,532.35.

The US currency closed at 71.7 euro cents from 71.878 euro cents Friday. The dollar closed at 90.239 yen from 89.395 yen Friday.

Markets are to close early Wednesday and will be closed Thursday for the Christmas holiday.

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