Dow climbs despite fears over finance reform bill

US STOCKS edged lower yesterday as bank shares fell on fears that financial reform making its way through Congress will curb profits, while Caterpillar’s strong results buoyed the Dow.

A proposal to overhaul financial regulation that could restrict lucrative derivatives trading was expected to face a crucial Senate test vote yesterday and weighed on financial shares.

JPMorgan fell 2.3 per cent to $43.89 and Bank of America slipped 2.1 per cent to $18.05. The KBW bank index dropped 3.1 per cent.

But Caterpillar shares rose after the heavy machinery maker raised full-year profit forecast. The stock gained 4.2 per cent to $71.65, keeping the Dow industrials afloat in positive territory.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 0.75 point, or 0.01 per cent, to close at 11,205.03. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 5.23 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 1,212.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 7.20 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 2,522.95.

On the New York Stock Exchange, nearly eight shares fell for every seven that rose, while on the Nasdaq, decliners beat advancers by a ratio of about 14 to 13.

About 9.31bn shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, below last year’s estimated daily average of 9.65bn.