U.S. Stocks Slip A Day After Nasdaq Passes 5,000 Milestone

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes fell in noon trading Tuesday as investors await earnings from the few companies yet to announce results and a jobs report later this week. The Nasdaq fell below 5,000 a day after passing that milestone for the first time since the dot-com era 15 years ago.


KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 135 points, or 0.7 percent, to 18,153 as of 12:06 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 16 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,100. The Nasdaq composite fell 44 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,963.

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FORD'S FIZZLE: Ford's U.S. sales fell 1.9 percent last month as dealers lacked the inventory to meet demand for the new F-150 pickup truck. Its stock dropped 42 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $16.14.

         General Motors and Chrysler reported gains, but they were smaller than expected. Freezing temperatures and snow kept buyers away from dealers.

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SPRINGLEAF LEAPS: Personal finance company Springleaf Holdings rose $10.64, or 28 percent, to $48.68 after it said it would buy Citigroup's OneMain Financial for $4.25 billion. OneMain provides personal loans at more than 1,100 branches across 43 states.


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DIVIDEND HIKE: Best Buy gained 25 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $38.89 after it said it would raise its dividend 21 percent and give shareholders an additional one-time payment. The nation's biggest electronics chain also reported fourth-quarter earnings that were higher than financial analysts had expected.


NASDAQ MILESTONE: The drop in the Nasdaq follows a 0.9 percent gain on Monday that put it just 40 points from its 5,048.62 peak reached March 10, 2000. The index has changed significantly since then. Gone is the heavy weighting of telecommunications stocks and big bets on Internet companies with little or no earnings.


THE QUOTE: "It's only natural we would get a little flutter after milestone like yesterday," said John Manley, chief equity strategist at Wells Fargo Fund Management. "It may very well go on for a few days."


SUNNY CEOS: The outlook for sales at big U.S. companies over the next six months hasn't been this good in three years, according to a survey of top CEOs released Tuesday by the lobbying group Business Roundtable.


EUROPE SLUMPS: France's CAC 40 fell 1.1 percent and Germany's DAX lost 1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.7 percent.


ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 inched down 0.1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.7 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.4 percent. Seoul's Kospi added 0.2 percent.


CHINA MEETING: Investors were keeping an eye on China, whose ceremonial legislature starts its annual session on Thursday and is expected to announce a target for economic growth in 2015. Last year's target was 7.5 percent, which China narrowly missed, posting 7.4 percent, the slowest in 24 years. There are expectations the target will be lowered to 7 percent this year as China manages a multiyear shift in its economy away from industrial led growth to consumers and services.


ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 50 cents to $50.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 17 cents to close at $49.59 a barrel on Monday.


CURRENCIES, BONDS: The dollar was trading at 119.41 yen, down from 120.14 yen. The euro rose to $1.1216 from $1.1183. Bond prices didn't move much. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was flat at 2.08 percent.

         – by AP Reporter Bernard Condon



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