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Stocks fluctuate as investors lock in profits

NEW YORK – Stocks fluctuated early Thursday following upbeat reports on the job market and sales at major retailers.

With major stock market indexes already up as much as 4.8 percent for the week, investors locked in some profits. A massive two-month rally has left the Standard & Poor’s 500 index up more than 30 percent. Technology shares saw the most selling after security software maker Symantec Corp. posted weaker-than-expected quarterly results.

Positive economic and other news initially sent shares sharply higher. Weekly claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped last week to their lowest level since January. And many retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., are reporting better-than-expected April sales.

The reports come as investors await the formal release of results from the government’s “stress tests” of bank balance sheets after the closing bell.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, addressing a Fed conference, called for a holistic approach to strengthening oversight of the banking system to prevent future financial crises. He said regulators must sharpen their assessments of individuals banks and examine the financial system as a whole to detect risks that could endanger the normal flow of credit, market operations and commerce.

In midmorning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 23.97, or 0.3 percent, to 8,488.31.

Broader stock indicators also turned lower but remained volatile. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 1.69, or 0.2 percent, to 917.84, and the technology-laden Nasdaq composite index fell 25.69, or 1.5 percent, to 1,733.41.

In economic news, the Labor Department’s tally of new jobless claims fell to 601,000 from 631,000 the previous week, coming in well below the 635,000 economists had been expecting. However the number of unemployed workers getting benefits climbed to a new record.

Wal-Mart said sales of Easter merchandise and higher traffic helped its sales jump 5 percent, much more than the 2.9 percent rise analysts had forecast. Wal-Mart rose $1.21, or 2.4 percent, to $50.72.

Symantec reported a loss for its fiscal 2009 fourth quarter, hurt by a hefty goodwill impairment charge and lower-than-expected revenue. The stock fell $2.50, or 14.2 percent, to $15.09.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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