Wall Street falls, ends worst month since May 2012

NEW YORK Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:30pm EDT

1 of 2. Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange August 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell in a thinly traded session on Friday as the S&P 500 index recorded its steepest decline since May 2012 and investors avoided making large bets before a long weekend with the situation about Syria still uncertain.

Afternoon trading was volatile, with indexes swinging between break-even levels and solid losses as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in televised remarks that Syria's government used poison gas against civilians and made the case for a limited military response.

President Barack Obama said later he has not made a final decision on a response to Syria.

"People are uneasy not knowing what's going on," said John Carey, portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management in Boston. "With that uncertainty and going into the Labor Day holiday, we're seeing people step back."

The S&P 500 fell 3.1 percent in August and lost 1.8 percent for the week in a third decline in the past four weeks.

The CBOE Volatility index .VIX rose 2.2 percent, bringing its weekly rise to 22 percent. Trading was light ahead of Monday's market holiday for Labor Day. About 3.99 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average so far this year of about 6.31 billion shares.

"I tend to view the weakness as a buying opportunity, barring some global crisis," said Carey, who helps oversee about $200 billion in assets. "Syria isn't the crisis in and of itself, but if we do take military action, there could be repercussions." Military action "is always very risky."

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 33.26 points, or 0.22 percent, at 14,807.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 5.40 points, or 0.33 percent, at 1,632.77. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 30.44 points, or 0.84 percent, at 3,589.87.

The Nasdaq fell 1.9 percent for the week while the Dow slid 1.3 percent in its fourth straight weekly loss. For the month, the Dow fell 4.4 percent and the Nasdaq lost 1 percent. Only one of the 30 Dow components, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), ended higher for the month.

Almost 70 percent of stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange closed lower while 73 percent of Nasdaq-listed shares ended in negative territory.

Video game companies were among the Nasdaq's biggest decliners on Friday. Electronic Arts (EA.O) fell 3.4 percent to $26.64 while Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) fell 2.6 percent to $16.32.

Weak data on individual spending and tame inflation painted a picture of a soft economy, keeping investors guessing when the Federal Reserve might start to cut back on stimulus measures.

Consumer spending rose only 0.1 percent and inflation was tame in July, with a price index for consumer spending up 0.1 percent.

Other data showed the pace of business activity in the U.S. Midwest increased in August, as the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business barometer rose to 53.0 from 52.3 in July, matching economists' expectations.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final reading on the overall index on consumer sentiment slipped to 82.1 in August from 85.1 in July, but managed to top economists' expectations for a final read of 80.5.

Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N) jumped 12.6 percent to $49.13 and was the best performer in the S&P 500 after the company raised its fiscal 2014 sales outlook after reporting better-than-expected revenue and earnings.

Apache Corp (APA.N) climbed 9 percent to $85.68 after the oil and gas producer said it was selling a 33 percent stake in its Egypt oil and gas business for $3.1 billion to state-owned Chinese oil giant Sinopec Group.

Omnivision Technologies Inc (OVTI.O) tumbled 16 percent to $15.45 after the chipmaker forecast current-quarter adjusted profit largely below expectations as rising competition and a slowdown of U.S. smartphone sales led to an inventory pile-up.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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Comments (2)
Mylena wrote:
It is incredible. One country like Syria, yheir problems affects our country. And still we want to help them? Second thoughs are very useful.

Aug 30, 2013 9:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
objectiveknow wrote:
If John Kerry had made his comments yesterday the UK parliament may have voted for limited military intervention instead of being 50/50 with a small negtive bias.

For those “not in my name” folk I have a lot of empathy/sympathy. The wider escalation of the civil war could be dissaterous for the whole region. Who knows what the consequencies of a limited military action would be?

But please look at the statement on the White House pages. Regime CW officials on site three days before the CW attack, the regime alone having the CW and the delivery systems, satellite intelligence able to state exactally where and when the rocket attacts started (in regime territory), excactally where the rockets landed, 1429 dead including 426 children, shelling increased four-fold following the CW attacks to destroy the evidence and intercepted communications telling of regime commanders trying to cover up the outrage.

Yet the UK Labour party made an ammendment to the government motion that didn’t even mention the words CW and due to Assam.

Yet it is true that our only choices here are between bad and worse. If the West gets involved we will only accumulate enemies whoever we support.

The answer is simple.

Resist the invite to develop the civil war into a wider regional conflict and the cry for Assad to be the front line against Western imperialism. Avoid his invite, 426 chilren dead. Do not launch a Tommahawk strike. Wait for the UN inspectors’ to report but expect a Hans Blick type “yes but maybe no” reply. Why do we pay these people with their big cars and 5 star hotels? The US pays 18% of their funding and yet they prefer 1948 guidelines that allow 1.7m refugees and 100,000 dead without challenge to their cosy beauocrocracy.

The UN should be driving UN reform and not John Bolton.

We should resist the Assad regimes’s temptation and state that any future contravention of the 1925 aggreement on the use of CW will be met with specicfic penalies. We will not be sucked in today but if you use CW tommorrow these are the consequencies. Avoid a strike today but tell them what will happen if they do it again.

Yet the “not in our name” folk say turn the other way when 426 children are gassed, its not our problem and may diminish our benefits.

Aug 30, 2013 8:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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