Friday Stocks Mixed On Savings News

NEW YORK (AP) — Investors are nervous because consumers are saving more than they’re spending.

Stocks were mixed Friday after the Commerce Department reported that personal spending, incomes and savings all rose in May. What troubled investors was that the savings rate soared to 6.9 percent, a 15-year high, while spending rose by a more modest 0.3 percent.

The trend suggests consumers are being extremely careful with their money. That’s good for the individual, but not great for the overall economy in the short-term.

Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors, said he expects the savings rate to eventually hit 10 percent before it eases. The savings rate had been 5.6 percent in April, and annual savings rates were below 1 percent from 2005 through 2007.

“If people ramp up savings that aggressively, that is going to result in less GDP recovery than ordinarily would be the case,” Orlando said.

Gross domestic product dropped at an annual rate of 5.5 percent in the first quarter, the government reported earlier this week. As the second half of 2009 draws to a close, investors are growing more anxious about whether the economy can bounce back later this year.

That uncertainty, bolstered by a mix of promising and worrisome data, has led to a choppy week in the stock market. After four straight days of losses, the Dow Jones industrial average rebounded by 2.1 percent on Thursday. But traders appeared eager to take some profits from that jump ahead of the weekend, analysts said.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 39.53, or 0.5 percent, to 8,432.87. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.42, or 0.3 percent, to 917.84. The Nasdaq composite index rose 3.93, or 0.2 percent, to 1,833.47.

The University of Michigan reported a rise in consumer sentiment in June, better than the flat reading expected by analysts. But even that data could not trigger a rally.

The technology-dominated Nasdaq did better than the other major indexes thanks in large part to Palm Inc. The smartphone maker posted a narrower loss for its fiscal fourth quarter than analysts expected. Shares rose $2.25, or 16 percent, to $16.27.

Government bond prices gained modestly. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.52 percent from 3.54 percent late Thursday.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies was flat at 509.14.

Advancing stocks narrowly outnumbered declining stocks, where volume came to 417 million on the New York Stock Exchange, down from 516 million at the same time on Thursday.

Crude oil fell $1.18 to $69.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The dollar fell against other major currencies. Gold prices rose.

Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 0.8 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.3 percent, Germany’s DAX index fell 0.5 percent, and France’s CAC-40 fell 1.1 percent.

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