CLOSING BELL: August 30th: DJIA: 13,000.71 | DOWN 106.77 | -0.81%
OIL: $94.62, DOWN 0.87, -0.61%
GOLD: $1,657.10, DOWN 5.90, -0.35%
GASOLINE (US Avg): $3.826, UP .022
Rodrigo Campos, Reuters – Stocks fell on Thursday after several days of muted trading as investors took a defensive posture before Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s much-awaited speech on Friday.
Bernanke, due to speak to central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Friday, is expected to keep markets guessing about the timing of another round of bond purchases.
The mood was cautious in financial markets due to the high stakes surrounding the Fed chairman’s speech as well as a meeting of the European Central Bank on Thursday that is expected to take pressure off highly indebted countries.
Central banks face pressure to combat the weakness in the economy. In a sign of slowing growth, shares of mining companies fell as iron ore prices dropped to the lowest level since 2009. U.S.-traded shares of BHP Billiton (BBL.N) dropped 3.8 percent to $58.11.
All 10 S&P industry sectors were lower, with technology .GSPT, energy .GSPE and materials .GSPM leading the decline. The benchmark index dipped below the 1,400 mark at the close for the first time since August 6.
U.S. economic data over the past two weeks have been a little stronger than expected, and Reuters polls show investors and economists were more skeptical the Fed will announce a new round of bond buying at its September meeting.
“If (Bernanke) doesn’t tip his hand, then the market is going down on the speech,” said Uri Landesman, president of hedge fund Platinum Partners. “I don’t think the market hangs in around 1,400 if he doesn’t say anything substantive.”
Read the rest of this article at Reuters here.
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