Share This Page

Stocks sink, pulling S&P 500 down from 5-year high

| Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, 4:50 p.m.

NEW YORK — Investors started the week on a cautious note, pulling the Standard & Poor's 500 index down from the five-year high it reached on Friday.

The move lower on Monday is likely a result of traders taking some winnings off the table after the stock market's surge last week, said Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ.

Investors also are preparing for corporate America's seasonal parade of earnings reports, which starts Tuesday.

“You can summarize it as profit-taking and preparation,” Stovall said. “Investors are digesting some of those gains from last week and positioning themselves so they're not too far extended if fourth-quarter earnings slip a bit.”

The S&P 500 fell 4.58 points to close at 1,461.89.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 50.92 points to 13,384.29, while the Nasdaq composite dropped 2.84 points to 3,098.81.

The S&P 500 soared 4.6 percent last week, ending Friday at a five-year high. The government reported that hiring held up in December during the tense budget negotiations in Washington, with employers adding 155,000 jobs during the month.

Investors celebrated to start the year as lawmakers passed a bill to avoid a combination of government spending cuts and tax increases that came to be known as the “fiscal cliff.” The law that was passed late Tuesday night avoided the full force of the budget cuts, which could have dragged the economy into a recession.

Investors are now shifting their focus to corporate profits. Aluminum producer Alcoa starts off the reporting season for the fourth quarter of 2012 after the market closes on Tuesday.

Analysts forecast that companies in the S&P 500 will report that quarterly earnings increased 3.3 percent compared to the same period the year before, according to S&P Capital IQ. But all the events that took place in the last three months of 2012 ­— Superstorm Sandy, the presidential election and worries about the narrowly avoided “fiscal cliff” — could make for some surprises.

JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and other banks agreed to pay $8.5 billion to settle federal complaints that they foreclosed on people who should have been allowed to stay in their homes. Bank stocks ended the day little changed.

In a separate agreement, Bank of America settled with the government-owned mortgage finance company Fannie Mae over mortgage investments that lost value during the real-estate crash. BofA's stock fell 2 cents to $12.09.

In other trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 1.90 percent. The yield on the note hit an eight-month high of 1.97 percent in intraday trading on Friday, according to prices from Tradeweb, an operator of fixed-income markets.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.