Stocks dive as second quarter ends

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter

NEW YORK( -- Stocks finished lower after a late-session retreat, as investors piled out of a downbeat quarter that ended with Wednesday's session.

The major indexes had teetered on either side of breakeven throughout the day as investors weighed a weak jobs report against an improved European bank outlook that provided earlier support.


But all three indexes turned down sharply as the session ended. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 96 points, or 1%, to finish at 9,774.02. The S&P 500 (SPX) closed down 1% at 1,030.71 and the Nasdaq (COMP) lost 1.2% to end at 2,109.24.

All three indexes' closing figures were the lowest since late 2009. Declines were broad-based, with 29 of the 30 Dow components ending lower Wednesday. Diversified manufacturer 3M (MMM, Fortune 500) managed to hold an 0.6% gain.

Wednesday's session marked the end of the second quarter, during which the blue-chip Dow fell more than 10% on concerns about Europe's debt and the overall global economy. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 each lost 12% in the second quarter.

Year-to-date, the Dow is off 7.7%. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 are both down 9% over the first half of the year.

Wednesday in focus: The ADP report showed less of a private sector job-market gain than economists had hoped, denting stocks trying to recoup losses from the prior session.

"We have a couple of cross-currents going on ahead of the July 4th weekend," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co.

"ADP was disappointing, but overnight we found out European banks didn't need as many loans as we thought," he added.

Worries about the pace of the global economic recovery slammed stocks around the world Tuesday. The S&P 500 tumbled 3.1%, following a sharp drop in Asia and Europe after a report suggested growth in China would slow in the second half of 2010.

Economy: The report on private sector jobs from payroll processing firm ADP showed the U.S. economy gained 13,000 jobs in June. The figure was significantly less than the 61,000 increase forecast from economists surveyed by, after a revised gain of 57,000 in May.

The ADP report came ahead of the all-important employment report released by the U.S. government on Friday.

European bank concerns ease: Stock losses were limited on news that European banks sought fewer loans than anticipated.

The European Central Bank said demand for an offering of 3-month loans was weaker than expected, implying that European banks are not in as much trouble as investors had previously thought.

A total of 171 banks borrowed €131.9 billion from the ECB, less than the €210 billion analysts had expected the central bank would need to lend, according to a Reuters poll.

The ECB's year-long lending program is slated to expire Thursday, so investors have been worried banks that have become dependent on that liquidity will feel the crunch.

World markets: Economic woes continued to hammer markets in Asia Wednesday, where stocks extended losses. The Shanghai Composite lost 1.1%, Japan's Nikkei tumbled 2% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong declined 0.6%.

European shares managed to hang on to gains. Britain's FTSE 100, France's CAC 40 and the DAX in Germany all closed slightly higher.

Companies: Executives from Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) and AIG (AIG, Fortune 500) testified before a special committee looking into the financial crisis about derivatives.

Joseph Cassano, the man who ran the business at the center of AIG's collapse, defended his tenure at the insurer and maintained he led efforts to shield the company from fallout.

Dollar and commodities: The dollar was lower against the euro but up versus the Japanese yen and the British pound.

U.S. light crude oil for August delivery fell 31 cents to $75.63 a barrel. Over the course of the quarter, oil prices lost 9.7%. Prices have gained every quarter since the last quarter of 2008, when they plunged by 55.7%.

COMEX gold's August contract was up 40 cents at $1,242.80 per ounce.

Bonds: Treasury prices fell, pushing the yield on the 10-year note up to 2.95%. On Tuesday, the yield dropped below the critical 3% level for the first time since April 2009. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. To top of page

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