Stocks struggle as investors weigh economic news

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm •  Published: December 4, 2013
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NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market continued its sluggish start to the month on Wednesday.

The broader market fell for fourth straight day, its longest losing streak in more than two months. A payroll company reported that U.S. businesses last month added the most jobs in a year, and investors worried that the latest sign of growth could mean the Fed begins pulling back on its stimulus sooner than expected.

Sears fell sharply after its CEO reduced his stake in the department store chain.

The latest bout of investor anxiety about the Fed's plans comes ahead of the government's closely watched monthly employment report on Friday. The Fed's $85 billion in monthly bond purchases have supported financial markets and given investors an incentive to buy stocks by making bonds seem relatively expensive.

After surging this year, stocks have had a slow start to December, usually one of the strongest months for the market. The Standard & Poor's 500 index has dropped 0.7 percent so far, paring its gain for the year to 25.7 percent. Even so, the market's surge has left some investors nervous. They don't want to add to their holdings when the market may have reached a peak.

"Things have been up and down," said Bob Gavlak, a wealth adviser with Strategic Wealth Partners. "There's some general angst about whether the market is overvalued and when is it going to come back down."

Sears fell $4.63, or 8.3 percent, to $50.92 after the company's CEO, billionaire hedge-fund manager Eddie Lampert, reduced his stake in the department store chain to less than half.

CF Industries was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500 index, surging $22.88, or 10.7 percent, to $237.07. The fertilizer company told investors that it was evaluating whether to increase its dividends and said it expected to have "significant" additional cash to give shareholders.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 24.85 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,889.77. The S&P 500 index fell 2.34 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,792.81. The Nasdaq composite edged up 0.80 point to 4,038.

As stocks slumped, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to its highest level in more than two months.



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