New York Report: Wall Street continues its trek downward

US stocks fell yesterday, with the Dow and S&P 500 dropping for a fifth straight session after a round of mixed economic data left traders guessing as to when the Federal Reserve would begin to slow its stimulus programme.

The Dow and the S&P 500 are in their worst stretch since September. However, the moves have been slight, with the S&P 500 down about 1.2 per cent over the period.

Gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 3.6 per cent in the third quarter, the fastest pace since the first quarter of 2012 and faster than the three per cent rate that had been expected. Another report showed that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week in a hopeful sign for the labour market – a day ahead of the November nonfarm payrolls report.

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 68.26 points, or 0.43 per cent, to end at 15,821.51. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 7.78 points, or 0.43 per cent, to finish at 1,785.04. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 4.84 points, or 0.12 per cent, to close at 4,033.17.

The Dow and the S&P 500 are on track to post their first negative week in nine. Wall Street’s recent rally, which took the Dow and the S&P 500 to all-time highs, came mostly on expectations that the Fed would hold steady with its stimulus.

The three major US stock indexes have each climbed more than 20 per cent this year.