Stocks give up the week's gains as consumer confidence collapses
The week got off to a positive start as earnings seasons began,
but bad news on consumer confidence, employment and manufacturing
dragged stock indexes back down to their starting point.
At noon, the S&P 500 and the Dow were essentially trading at the same point they did five days ago, and the NASDAQ was just slightly higher by .5 percent.
Disappointing earnings from General Electric ( GE ), Bank of America ( BAC ) and Citigroup ( C ) didn't do much to bolster traders' spirits. Google ( GOOG ) also missed targets, slipping over 5 percent by noon.
The University of Michigan released its consumer sentiment index data, showing that consumer confidence fell from 76 in June to 66.5 in July. That's the worst result in 11 months, and it's red meat for market bears who see unemployment and low growth oppressing the economy.
The week brought other depressing news: Data from the New York and Philadelphia Federal Reserve banks showed that key industrial activity indexes fell from July to June. The Empire State index collapsed from 19.6 in June to 5.1 in July, while the Pennsylvania index had a milder drop, from 8 to 5.1.
While initial jobless claims fell slightly, by 29,000 to 429,000 last week, many analysts worry that too much of that decrease is coming from unemployed labor abandoning the search for work completely.