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Dow's Seven-Month Streak At Risk
2012-04-30 13:56:58 (226 weeks ago)
Posted By: Intellpuke
The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded lower, putting a seventh straight monthly gain at risk, after Spain officially entered a recession and domestic readings on the economy and personal spending deteriorated.

The benchmark fell 37 points, or 0.3%, to 13191 in early-afternoon trade. A close above 13212 would mark its seventh straight monthly increase, the longest such streak in five years.

The Standard Poor's 500-stock index slid 7 points, or 0.5%, to 1396 and the Nasdaq Composite declined 20 points, or 0.6%, to 3050. Humana fell as the health insurer's raised guidance still fell short of analysts' estimates. NYSE Euronext dropped as the exchange operator's earnings suffered from an ongoing slump in trading activity.

"We've got some mixed economic data coming out of the U.S. as well as some disappointing economic data coming from Europe, which is just leading to a choppy market," said Joseph Tanious, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan's asset management unit.

Spain's economy contracted for the second consecutive quarter, the common definition of a recession. European markets edged mostly lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 falling 0.7% to halt a four-session win streak.

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Personal spending slowed in March, rising 0.3%, the Commerce Department said. The reading fell just shy of the 0.4% growth forecast by economists in a Dow Jones Newswires poll and followed an upwardly revised February increase of 0.9%, the biggest gain in over 2½ years.

Personal incomes rose 0.4%, topping expectations for a 0.2% advance, suggesting that while consumer buying is providing a lesser boost to the economy, it could pick up in coming months.

The price index for personal consumption expenditures, excluding volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.2% on a monthly basis in March, in line with economists' expectations.

The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago's business barometer fell to 56.2 in April from last month's 62.2, hitting a 29-month low and missing economists' forecasts.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas' Texas manufacturing production index fell to 5.6 this month from 11.1 in March. The Dallas Fed's reading on April business activity swung to a -3.4 from March's 10.8 score. A negative reading means firms reporting a decrease in activity outnumber those reporting an increase.

Manufacturing output in the U.S. Midwest was unchanged last month, with only the machinery sector registering a gain. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said its Midwest Manufacturing Index remained at 92.2, the same as February's upwardly revised reading.

Asian markets were broadly higher on the back of a strong finish in the U.S. the previous week. Hong Kong's Hang Seng hiked up 1.7% and Australia's ASX 200 tacked on 0.8%. Markets in Japan and Shanghai were closed for holidays.

Crude-oil futures shed 0.7% to $104.24 a barrel, while gold futures fell 0.3% to $1,660.00 an ounce. The U.S. dollar rose against the euro but lost ground against the yen.

This week sees 126 S&P 500 companies report, according to Deutsche Bank. Earnings so far have been upbeat. Of the 269 S&P 500 companies that reported through the end of last week, 78% topped consensus Wall Street estimates. That compares with an average of 72% over the previous four quarters.

In corporate news, shares of Barnes & Nobel shot up after the book seller said Microsoft was making a $300 million investment in its Nook digital-book business and college texts unit. Microsoft shares were little changed.

Intellpuke: You can read more of this article by Wall Street Journal Writer Matt Jarzemsky, reporting from New York City, N.Y., here:

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