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Market Recap: Lousy Retail Sales Throw Stocks Down

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Markets closed down today:

▼ Dow: -0.36 percent

▲ Nasdaq: +0.00 percent

▼ S&P: -0.47 percent

Precious metals:

▼ Gold: up -1.13 percent to $1,605.08 an ounce

▼ Silver: up -2.22 percent to settle at $27.68

Commodities:

▼ Oil: -0.97 percent

Markets were down because:

Stocks closed down on Wall Street Thursday after a report stating Americans are spending at a slower pace was released. Additional news that China's economy may be in worse shape than previously thought didn't help anything either.

American shoppers slowed their spending in June, resulting in tepid sales for many retailers.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 47.15 points at 12,896.67 on Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 6.44 points to 1,367.58. The Nasdaq composite was 0.04 point higher at 2,976.12.

In this July 3, 2012 file photo, a trader studies his screen as he works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Eight of the 10 major industries tracked by the S&P 500 fell, led by bank stocks. JPMorgan Chase fell $1.50, or 4 percent, to $34.38, while Bank of America fell 24 cents, or 3 percent, to $7.82.

China surprised investors earlier Thursday when it cut interest rates for the second time in a month. That caused investors to worry that the downturn in the world's second-largest economy may be worse than previously expected.

The People's Bank of China cut its main lending rate 0.31 percentage point to 6 percent and reduced its deposit rates by a quarter of a percentage point to 3 percent. The bank said the lower rates are intended to boost economic growth in the second half of the year. Analysts said the cuts are also a sign that Chinese authorities are increasingly concerned about that country's economy.

As the largest buyer of raw materials, a slowdown in China can hurt sales at a wide range of companies and cause commodities prices to weaken. Crude oil fell 44 cents to $87.22 per barrel, and copper lost 4.7 cents to $3.493 a pound.

Central banks in Europe also moved to stem a slowdown there. The Bank of England approved a 50 billion pound injection into the ailing British economy, while the European Central Bank cut its main interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.75 percent, the lowest it's been since the bank was established in 1999.

Weekly unemployment benefit applications dropped by 14,000 to 374,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's the fewest since the week of May 19.

Separately, payroll provider ADP said businesses added 176,000 jobs last month. That's better than the revised total of 136,000 jobs it reported for May. If that pace keeps up, it would be enough to lower the unemployment rate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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