U.S. stocks drop as retail sales slump, jobless claims increase
By Callie Bost Bloomberg News
NEW YORK - U.S. stocks fell, after equities snapped a four-day rally yesterday, as data showed retail sales declined in January by the most in 10 months while more Americans than forecast filed for unemployment benefits.
Cisco Systems Inc. dropped 3.9 percent after forecasting quarterly sales below some estimates. Whole Foods Market Inc. slumped 8 percent after posting profit that trailed projections and lowering its full-year forecast. Time Warner Cable Inc. jumped 7.8 percent as Comcast Corp. agreed to acquire the cable company for $45.2 billion.
The S&P 500 slipped 0.5 percent to 1,811.07 at 9:48 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 91.89 points, or 0.6 percent, to 15,872.05. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 9.4 percent above the 30-day average during this time of the day.
“Retail sales probably are more concerning here given the fact that we’ve seen a couple months that have looked weaker,” Cam Albright, director of asset allocation at Wilmington Trust Investment Advisors, said in a phone interview from Wilmington. His firm oversees about $79 billion. “The trend is not as good as we thought. Clearly, we’ve seen some weakness in other economic statistics, so investors at least have a reason to pause and take stock of what’s going on.”
Retail sales in the U.S. fell 0.4 percent in January after a revised 0.1 percent drop the prior month, according to the Commerce Department, as inclement weather kept consumers away from auto showrooms and stores. The median forecast of 86 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for no change. Sales excluding automobiles were unchanged.
Jobless claims increased by 8,000 to 339,000 in the week ended Feb. 8 from 331,000 in the prior period, a Labor Department report showed. The median forecast of 52 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decrease to 330,000.
“There will be a temporary slowdown in growth figures in the first quarter relative to the fourth and third quarters,” said Joost van Leenders, who helps oversee $654 billion as a strategist at BNP Paribas Investment Partners in Amsterdam. “We are underweight U.S. equities only relative to European equities, where we find more value.”