S&P and Dow dip after string of record highs

THE S&P 500 broke a five-day string of record closing highs yesterday, ending a fairly volatile session lower as recent momentum lost steam and Apple shares declined.

The Dow also broke its two-day string of all-time closing highs, but still ended above 15,000.

The length of the recent rally has surprised many investors. Analysts said it is difficult for the upward momentum to continue without further catalysts, such as first-quarter earnings reports, which are nearing an end.

Volume has been weak for much of this year’s rally. In fact, volume has been below average all week.

“This market is so stretched to the upside that if we get some little wiggle somewhere, I can easily see us getting back down to 1,580” on the S&P 500, said Stephen Massocca, managing director of Wedbush Equity Management LLC in San Francisco.

Apple, down 0.9 per cent at $456.77, led the declines of both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, while International Business Machines, down 0.8 per cent at $203.24, was the biggest drag on the Dow.

The day’s economic data was mostly positive, but failed to give much of a boost to stocks. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in almost 5-1/2 years – contrary to economists’ forecast of a gain – US Labor Department data showed.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 22.50 points, or 0.15 per cent, to end at 15,082.62. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 6.02 points, or 0.37 per cent, to finish at 1,626.67. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 4.10 points, or 0.12 per cent, to close at 3,409.17.

Despite the declines for the day, both the Dow and the S&P 500 reached all-time intraday highs – with the Dow touching 15,144.83 and the S&P 500 reaching 1,635.01.