Wall Street Slips On Angst Over Longevity Of Fed Stimulus
Stocks fell for a third day on Friday amid lingering concern the central bank may scale back its support to the economy.
Trading has been choppy in the second half of the week as market participants assess the Federal Reserve's evolving stance towards markets. Fed support has been instrumental in a rally that has boosted U.S. stocks to record highs this year.
However, many analysts say the eventual tapering of Fed stimulus will come with an expansion in the economy and corporate earnings, which will continue to support equities. Market pullbacks have been short and shallow since November as traders take any weakness as an opportunity to increase long positions.
Since Wednesday, the markets have been focused on the possibility of Fed purchases being scaled back later this year, in the wake of recent congressional testimony by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and the minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
"Markets are looking for a reset and a retracement lower, closer to more compelling valuations," said Peter Kenny, chief market strategist at Knight Capital in Jersey City, New Jersey.
He said on Wednesday there was a shift that "reintroduced a sense of caution that has long been absent" in markets.
The minutes, Kenny said, showed a degree of fracture in the FOMC "in terms of the approach moving forward, specifically the time frame" of the unwinding of the Fed's stimulus efforts.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 79.56 points or 0.52 percent, to 15,214.94, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 11.95 points or 0.72 percent, to 1,638.56 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 25.28 points or 0.73 percent, to 3,434.13.
Major indexes were on track to post their first negative week in five.
Futures briefly pared losses earlier after the Commerce Department said durable goods orders rose 3.3 percent last month, exceeding expectations for an increase of 1.5 percent. Prior readings for orders were revised to show a smaller decline in March than previously estimated.
Procter & Gamble (PG.N) shares rose 3.9 percent to $81.77 after the world's largest household products maker brought back A.G. Lafley as chief executive Thursday, replacing Bob McDonald in the midst of a major restructuring.
Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF.N) shares dropped 11.2 percent to $48.28 after the teen clothing retailer said quarterly comparable sales fell 15 percent, which it blamed in part on inventory shortages.
Shares of Sears Holdings (SHLD.O) tumbled 18 percent to $47.66 after the U.S. retailer reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday, hurt by cooler spring weather.
Pandora Media shares (P.N) jumped 8.1 percent to $18.55 after the streaming music service said Thursday first-quarter revenue grew on the strength of mobile advertising. At least five research firms raised their price target on the stock, which earlier hit $19.36 -its highest since July 2011.