Lackluster Session Settles with Modest Losses

September 30, 2009

Tuesday's trade concluded in lackluster fashion as an absence of leadership left stocks to drift during the afternoon, unable to reclaim their initial gains.

Tuesday's trade concluded in lackluster fashion as an absence of leadership left stocks to drift during the afternoon, unable to reclaim their initial gains. Stocks had started the session in higher ground as a better-than-expected S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Report for July brought about some modest support. The report's 20-City Composite showed a 13.3% year-over-year decline, which wasn't as bad as the 14.2% decline that was expected.

However, the solid state of things quickly became unsettled by news that the September Consumer Confidence Index pulled back to 53.1 from 5.4.5 in August. The dip was unexpected; economists, on average, had been expecting a reading of 57.0. The major indices were unable to fully recover from the flurry of selling that followed the disappointing consumer confidence reading.

News that the FDIC will require insured institutions to prepay estimated quarterly risk-based assessments into 2012 seemed to weight on bank stocks, though the announcement was generally expected. Diversified bank stocks fell 1.9%. Consumer finance stocks were hit just as hard. They fell 1.9% amid news that the Fed has approved rules amending the transparency and disclosure of terms in credit card agreements.

Bright spots were limited, but shares of Walgreen (WAG 37.35, +3..16) logged their best single-session percentage advance in six months after the company posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings. The drug retailer helped consumer staples stocks stay in the green for the entire session. Dow -0.5%, Nasdaq -0.3%, S&P 500 -0.2%, Nasdaq 100 -0.4%, S&P 400 +0.3%, Russell 2000 -0.5%.