* Shares falter on earnings season nervousness
* Euro in range as investors await more clarity
* Brent crude falls below $115 a barrel
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Oct 12 U.S. stocks slipped on Friday
as investors fretted over what is expected to be a weak
corporate earnings season, while gains in the euro were checked
by uncertainty over whether and when Spain would request help
with its finances.
Investors failed to be cheered even by data showing
Americans were the most upbeat they have been in five years, as
well as record quarterly profits at JPMorgan Chase and
Wells Fargo. As a result, U.S. stocks
posted their worst weekly decline since June.
"There's a lot of trepidation about earnings season," said
Randy Warren, chief investment officer of Warren Financial
Service in Exton, Pennsylvania.
"The predictions have been for weaker earnings, and we've
heard a few companies saying things are slowing down a little
bit in various places, especially overseas."
Weak global demand has heightened concerns over the
prospects for corporate earnings growth. As a group, S&P 500
companies' quarterly earnings are expected to fall 3 percent
from a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data, marking the
first decline in three years.
"Investors have been focusing on supportive central bank
polices to the exclusion of other things," said Kate Warne,
investment strategist at Edward Jones in St Louis. "Now with
earnings season, we're seeing some of those other things come
back into better balance and that's not as good news for the
The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 2.46
points, or 0.02 percent, at 13,328.85. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index dipped 4.25 points, or 0.30 percent, to 1,428.59.
The Nasdaq Composite Index eased 5.30 points, or 0.17
percent, to 3,044.11.
All three indexes were down more than 2 percent for the
Shares of JPMorgan, which had surged before the market's
open, and those of Wells Fargo were lower in afternoon trading.
Bank shares were down 2.5 percent on the KBW Bank Index.
While JPMorgan's results met analysts' expectations, Wells
Fargo came up weaker than expected on a key performance measure.
Its shares were down 2.6 percent, while JPMorgan fell 1.1
"Bank shares as a group have had a nice move (up) this year
so far," said Ken Polcari, managing director at ICAP Equities in
New York. "Guidance is cautious so people are taking money off
In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 ended down 0.5
percent. The MSCI world stock index eased 0.2
The euro rose against the dollar and yen but the currency
looked likely to struggle for traction. A bailout request from
indebted Spain is seen as positive for the euro as it would
remove another layer of uncertainty in financial markets and
activate the European Central Bank's bond-buying program, aimed
at lowering borrowing costs for troubled euro zone economies.
"The latest developments do suggest that the Spanish
authorities continue contemplating the possibility" (of a
bailout request), said Vassili Serebriakov, currency strategist
at Wells Fargo in New York.
"While the timing remains highly uncertain, we still believe
an aid request is more likely than not," he said.
The dollar was off 0.1 percent against a basket of other
The euro was at $1.2952, up 0.2 percent on the day.
It has traded in a tight range roughly between $1.28 and $1.3170
Many markets have been stuck in narrow ranges since the
start of the month as investors wait to see whether Spain
requests a bailout, a prerequisite for the ECB to buy its bonds.
The bloc has another opportunity to make progress with its
crisis strategy when EU leaders meet in Brussels on Thursday.
Brent oil fell below $115 a barrel after a prediction of a
further decline in oil consumption and higher supplies offset
concerns about potential output disruptions in the Middle East.
Brent crude was down $1.09 at $114.62 a barrel,
while U.S. crude settled down 21 cents at $91.86.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up
03/32 in price, yielding 1.660 percent.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's index on U.S.
consumer sentiment rose to 83.1 in early October from 78.3 a
month earlier, its highest since September 2007.
Meanwhile, U.S. producer prices rose more than expected in
September, although underlying inflation pressures were muted.