US stocks fall on oil, subprime concerns

Stocks slid Friday as investors, securing positions before the second half of the year begins, sold off due to rising oil prices and lingering worries about subprime mortgage lending troubles.

SHARES WALL STREET Stocks slid Friday as investors, securing positions before the second half of the year begins, sold off due to rising oil prices and lingering worries about subprime mortgage lending troubles. The erratic day capped off a strong second quarter, which pushed the Dow Jones industrial average up more than 1,000 points over the last three months. The stock market initially rose Friday, encouraged by Commerce Department data that fit well with the Federal Reserve's assessment Thursday that the US economy appears to be growing moderately and that inflation, while still a concern, seems to be easing. Friday's reports said May construction spending rose by the largest amount in nearly 1 1/2 years and consumer spending increased for the second month in a row. The data also indicated that "core" prices, which strip out food and energy, moderated to 1.9 percent over the last 12 months - the lowest year-over-year rate since 2004. The Dow fell 13.66, or 0.10%, to 13,408.62, after swinging dramatically higher and lower over the course of the day. The index rose 1,054.27 points, or 8.53%, during the second quarter, and hit its most recent record high on June 4. Broader stock indicators also dipped Friday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.36, or 0.16%, to 1,503.35, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 5.14, or 0.20%, to 2,603.23. The S&P rose 82.49 points, or 5.81%, in the second quarter, during which it reached record closing levels for the first time since March 2000. The Nasdaq rose 181.59 points, or 7.50%. Bonds rose Friday on heightened fears of terrorist activity in Great Britain. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 5.03% from 5.11% late Thursday. Analysts said Friday's stock market fluctuations were mostly a function of high volatility and end-of-quarter selling. In corporate news, Apple Inc. released its iPhone to the public. The gadget, which combines the functions of a cell phone, iPod and wireless Web browser, was to go on sale in the United States at Apple and AT&T stores at 6 p.m. Friday in each time zone. Apple rose $1.48 to $122.04. If the iPhone is a hit, it could cause weakness among other smart phone makers. Palm Inc. on Thursday posted lower earnings for its latest quarter as sales of its signature Treo phone were offset by a downturn in handheld computers. Palm fell 54 cents, or 3.3%, to $16.02. BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Corp. certainly wasn't suffering, however, after announcing late Thursday a 3-for-1 stock split and a 73% surge in first-quarter profit. Research in Motion soared $34.40, or 20.8%, to $199.99. Friday's economic news was positive, overall. The University of Michigan's monthly index of consumer sentiment slipped in June compared to May by a smaller amount than expected, as did the Chicago Purchasing Manager's Index - a precursor to the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index on Monday. The PMI, which measures Midwest manufacturing activity, also showed a decrease in its prices-paid index, a sign that inflation is easing. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 5.33, or 0.64%, to 833.70. It rose 4.12% in the second quarter. Declining issues outpaced advancers by about 9 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 3.10 billion shares, up from 2.93 billion shares Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average ended the week up 48.36, or 0.36%, at 13,408.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 index finished up 0.79, or 0.05%, at 1,503.35. The Nasdaq composite index ended up 14.27, or 0.55%, at 2,603.23. The Russell 2000 index finished the week down 1.05, or 0.13%, at 833.70. The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index - a free-float weighted index that measures 5,000 US-based companies - ended at 15,210.65, up 7.33 points for the week. A year ago, the index was at 12,845.77. EUROPE Stocks ended higher after a well-received reading on US inflation and as bid talk supported shares in companies such as Capgemini and Air Liquide. The German DAX 30 closed up 1.1% to stand at 8,007.32, while the French CAC 40 rose 0.8% to 6,054.93. The UK's FTSE 100 added 0.6% to 6,607.90. ASIA In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index rose 206.09 points, or 1.15%, to 18,138.36 points. It was the biggest point rise in the index for June. CURRENCY The dollar fell against the euro and most other key currencies, a day after the US Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged. In late New York trading, the 13-nation euro rose to $1.3535 from $1.3432 late Thursday. The British pound continued to trade above the $2 mark, rising to $2.0077 from $2.0018, while the dollar dipped to 123.14 Japanese yen from 123.18. The dollar weakened as the second quarter wound to a close and traders secured positions heading into a holiday week in the US. COMMODITIES Soybean prices surged to the market limit after the USDA said that acreage dedicated to soybeans slid 15% to 64.1 million acres - the lowest since 1995. November soybeans spent much of the day up 50 cents at $8.9225 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, hitting the daily trading limit permitted by the exchange. Prices fell back before the close to finish up 39.4 cents at $8.654 a bushel. The decline in soybean acreage came as farmers switched to corn to take advantage of record high prices. Rapid growth in demand for corn-based ethanol drove corn prices above $4 a bushel several times this year, compared with a 10-year average price of about $2.50 a bushel. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil closed above $70 a barrel for the first time since August 31 as concerns about gasoline and heating oil supplies continued to plague the market. Light, sweet crude for August delivery rose $1.11 to settle at $70.68 a barrel on the Nymex. August gold picked up 50 cents to close at $650.9 an ounce, after briefly touching $655. July silver rose 2.6 cents an ounce to close at $12.353.