Wall St falls on weak industrials; transports drag

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Friday, with the major indexes slipping for the first week in three, as industrial companies’ weak results overshadowed robust earnings from tech and retail heavy-weights.

The blue-chip Dow average finished below 10,000 for the second time this week.

A stronger U.S. dollar hit commodity prices, hurting the energy and materials sectors, while an analyst’s comments on a major railroad’s stock hit the transports sector.

Shares of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp BNI.N, the second-biggest U.S. railroad, slid over 6 percent after an RBC Capital analyst cut his price target on the stock and helped drive the Dow Jones Transportation Average .DJT down 3.5 percent. An index of S&P industrial companies .GSPI lost 1.7 percent.

The U.S. dollar rose against the pound after data showed the UK posted its sixth straight quarter of contraction in gross domestic product, the longest stretch on record, and better-than-expected U.S. housing data gave the greenback an extra boost.

The dollar's strength helped push oil and commodity prices lower, sending shares of companies in the energy and materials sectors down. The S&P materials sector .GSPM fell 2.1 percent.

But shares of technology bellwether Microsoft Corp MSFT.O jumped 5.4 percent to $28.02 and online retailer Inc AMZN.O soared a whopping 26.8 percent to $118.49 after earlier climbing to a lifetime high of $119.65.

“In the face of a market moving down, Microsoft and Amazon are up strong. Today it is not a stock market, but a market of stocks. If companies come out with good reports, they are being rewarded,” said Robert Auer, senior portfolio manager at SBAuer Funds in Indianapolis.

“For the rest of the market, it is a normal day. We’re up more than 50 percent on the S&P from the March lows, and the market just has to go down sometimes.”

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 109.13 points, or 1.08 percent, to 9,972.18, marking its second finish this week below the 10,000 mark. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX dropped 13.31 points, or 1.22 percent, to 1,079.60. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC dropped 10.82 points, or 0.50 percent, to 2,154.47.

On Wednesday, the Dow industrials also finished slightly below the 10,000 mark following a late sell-off led by financial stocks.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, October 14, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

For the week, the Dow slipped 0.2 percent and the S&P 500 declined 0.7 percent, while the Nasdaq dipped 0.1 percent.


In Friday’s session, Burlington Northern’s shares fell 6.5 percent, or $5.50, to $79.12 a day after the company reported a 30 percent drop in quarterly profit. The company hauls a variety of commodities such as coal, grain, lumber, construction materials, automobiles and consumer goods.

An RBC Capital analyst cut his price target on Burlington Northern’s stock to $87 from $91, while keeping his “underperform” rating.

Shares of Union Pacific Corp UNP.N, the largest U.S. railroad, tumbled 5.6 percent, or $3.39, to $57.73.

Oilfield services company Schlumberger Ltd SLB.N dropped 5 percent to $65.20 after it warned natural gas drilling activity would remain weak until late 2010. [ID:nN2248654] This year, natural gas prices globally have been too low to justify much drilling of new wells, Schlumberger said.

U.S. crude oil futures fell 69 cents, or 0.9 percent, to settle at $80.50 a barrel. The S&P energy sector index .GSPE slid 2 percent.

Top decliners in the tech sector included Broadcom Corp BRCM.O and MEMC Electronic Materials Inc WFR.N following disappointing quarterly results.

Shares of Broadcom, which makes chips for everything from cellphones to TV set-top boxes, slid 7.3 percent to $28.50 on Nasdaq. The stock of MEMC Electronic Materials, which makes silicon, the major raw material for the solar and semiconductor industries, dropped 10.1 percent to $13.87 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The semiconductor index .SOXX lost 3.2 percent.

Earlier in the day, September data showed sales of previously owned U.S. homes surged to their highest level since July 2007.

Volume was moderate on the New York Stock Exchange, with 1.28 billion shares changing hands, below last year’s estimated daily average of 1.49 billion. On the Nasdaq, about 2.48 billion shares traded, above last year’s daily average of 2.28 billion.

Declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a ratio of about 3 to 1, while on the Nasdaq, nearly 10 stocks fell for every three that rose.

Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Additional reporting by Aarthi Sivaraman; Editing by Jan Paschal