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Stocks Slide for 2nd Day; Merck, Sony Gain

Thursday, 29 Jul 2010 | 5:23 PM ET

Stocks ended lower for a second day Thursday, led by tech, consumer and utility shares, after some disappointing outlooks. Financials and materials rose slightly.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 30.72, or 0.3 percent, to close at 10,467.16, after a rocky session that saw the Dow trade in a nearly 200-point range. Still, the Dow has gained more than 7 percent in July, putting it on track to post the biggest monthly percentage increase and best July gain since July 2009, when it rose 8.6 percent.

Microsoft , GE and Chevron were among the Dow's top gainers.

Kraft, P&G and Intel were among the Dow decliners.

The S&P 500fell 0.4 percentand the Nasdaqshed 0.6 percent. The CBOE volatility index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, was below 24 at the closing bell.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, a voting member of the FOMC, rattled the market a little after he said that the Fed may have to take the more severe measure of buying government debtif prices stay too low for too long. But he said the risk of deflation is low.

Some market pros, like James Dailey, CIO at Team Asset Strategy Fund, cautioned that the current market is similar to the rally off the "Bear Stearns low" in March 2008.

“The euro crisis [is] similar to the Bear Stearns crisis where people thought it’s over,” Dailey told CNBC. “So the sovereign debt issues and the currency issues as we go forward are likely to re-emerge.”

Among utility stocks, Constellation Energy fell nearly 5 percent after reporting lower-than-expected earnings, in a quarter marked by special accounting charges and other items.

Trading in was halted briefly at 10:41 a.m. due to a 10 percent price spike within a five-minute trading period. NYSE Amex said all trades will stand after it had reviewed those executed at 10:41 a.m. between $23.67 and $26. The stock resumed trading at 10:46 a.m. Cisco did not provide any information.

Shares of Nvidia and Symantec plunged around 10 percent after both chipmakers cut expectations for the next quarter. Also, several brokerages lowered price targets for both companies.

Among consumer stocks, Kellogg fell nearly 7 percent after the company posted lower-than-expected quarterly profitsand released a weak outlook.

Colgate-Palmolive also skidded about 7 percent after the firm beat estimates and reaffirmed its outlook, but warned that currency devaluation in Venezuela would cause a greater impact than expected.

Visa also topped forecasts, but shares fell more than 4 percent after at least five brokerages lowered their price targetson the credit-card provider.

Most energy stocks rose slightly Thursday after strong earnings reports from energy producers, including ExxonMobil , the No. 1 company in market capitalization, and Royal Dutch Shell.

On Wednesday, ConocoPhillips reported a jump in second quarter income due to higher oil prices and bigger refining margins. And rival Chevron is expected to report earnings on Friday.

Merck shares rose ahead of the drugmaker's earnings, also due out on Friday.

Things Looking Up?
Discussing whether the economy is half-full or empty, with Michael Cuggino, Permanent Portfolio Funds and Tim Lydon, Global Investment Trends.

Financial stocks mostly rose, although slightly, with Citigroup eking out a 0.73 percent gain after news itsettled charges with the SEC that it failed to disclose subprime exposure to investors in 2007.

BP shares rose following news that the oil giant may permanently shut the well that caused the worst off-shore oil spill in U.S. history as early as Monday.

Shares of Anadarko Petroleum also rose, even as reports emerged that the SEC is investigatinglate spring trading activity in shares of both companies.

Treasury prices initially extended their lossesafter the government auctioned $29 billion in 7-year notes, fetching a high yield of 2.394 percent. The bid-to-cover ratio was 2.78.

And in the day's economic news, initial jobless claims dropped by 11,000 last week but continuing claims ramped up, with 4.57 million people are still receiving benefits.

Homebuilder stocks mostly rose across the board, with Beazer Homes jumping more than 5 percent, after mortgage rates hit a record lowfor a sixth straight week, according to Freddie Mac.

And investors are waiting for the first release of second quarter GDP numbers, the broadest measure of the economy, on Friday. Economists are forecasting that GDP slowed to an annual rate of 2.5 percent, down from the first quarter's 2.7 percent, as the government cut back on economic stimulus programs.

surged almost 8 percent after the Japanese electronics maker reported a return to profitabilitythanks to sales of Bravia flat-screen TVs and PlayStation 3 consoles, and strength in emerging markets.

RadioShack shares rose more than 3 percent after the electronics retailer reported a higher profit, helped by the fact that it's now selling Apple's iPhone 4.

Amazon shares see-sawed following news that the online auctioneer is offering a $139 Kindle e-readerto appeal to the masses.

Toyota shares rose a little, despite the automakerannouncing another recall— this time of more than 400,000 vehicles in the U.S.

On the M&A front, France's Sanofi-Aventis plans to make a formal offer of up to $18.7 billion for Genzyme after its informal overture failed to strike interest, according sources familiar with the situation.

And Panasonic unveiled plans for a $5.7 billion share offering to help finance a buyout of Sanyo Electric in addition to another unit.

Volume was average, with nearly 1.2 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Advancers outpaced decliners nearly 8 to 7.

—Abby Schultz contributed to this article.

Still to Come:

THURSDAY: Earnings from Amgen after the bell
FRIDAY: First release of 2Q GDP; employment cost index; Chicago PMI; consumer sentiment; Earnings from: Chevron and Merck

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