Fears over strict financial reform weigh on Wall St

THE S&P 500 fell for the fourth straight day yesterday as fresh signs of consumer weakness and worries about stringent financial regulation provoked investors to unload positions.

The S&P 500 has lost 3.8 per cent in four days, with retailers among the biggest decliners.

Banks were pressured by fears Congress would pass stringent rules in an overhaul of financial regulations. Lawmakers were on the verge of adopting a bill that could restrict banks’ trading and investment acitivities.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 145.64 points, or 1.41 per cent, to 10,152.80. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 18.35 points, or 1.68 per cent, to 1,073.70. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 36.81 points, or 1.63 per cent, to 2,217.42.

About 8.65bn shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, well below last year’s estimated daily average of 9.65bn. Declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE and Nasdaq three to one.