US investors avoided another rollercoaster day on Wall Street. What they got instead was a steady, moderate decline that left the market with its worst weekly performance since May 2012.
Technology shares were especially hard hit. Semi-conductor makers slumped after Microchip Technology cut its sales forecast for the quarter and warned investors to expect bad news from others in the sector.
That sent shares lower for Avago Technologies, Intel and Texas Instruments, among others. Microchip Technology declined the most, shedding 5.59 dollars, or 12.3%, to 39.96.
The decline capped a week of turbulence in the market brought on by renewed fears that economic growth in Europe could be slowing.
The Dow Jones industrial average recorded its biggest gain of the year on Wednesday. The next day, it plunged 334 points, its steepest decline this year.
“A lot of investors are trying to come to grips with the pickup in volatility we’ve suddenly seen during this week,” said David Kelly, chief global strategist for JPMorgan Funds.
The major stock indexes were down in premarket trading yesterday.
The slide in semi-conductor stocks dragged down the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index, keeping it in the red all day.
The other indexes flirted with small gains throughout the day, but the course didn’t hold. They ended lower for the fourth time in five days.
All told, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 115.15, or 0.7%, to 16,544.10. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index shed 22.08, or 1.2%, to 1,906.13.
The Nasdaq slid 102.10 points, or 2.3%, to 4,276.24.
All three indexes ended lower for the week. For the S&P 500, this was the worst weekly decline since May 18 2012, when it fell 4.3%.
Negative economic news and a slide in oil prices contributed to the uneasiness on Wall Street this week, market watchers said.
Germany, which has been the economic powerhouse for Europe, reported on Thursday its biggest monthly drop in exports in five years. In addition, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its outlook for global economic growth.
Meanwhile, some traders are interpreting the decline in oil prices as further indication that growth is slowing.
“You put those three factors together and it has investors nervous at the health of the world economy,” said Jeff Kravetz, regional investment director at US Bank Wealth Management.
The volatility in the market this week also came at a time of relatively light corporate news in the US. That changes next week, when a slew of major companies begin to report their latest quarterly results.
“Third-quarter earnings season should be pretty reassuring, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see money go back into various stocks as companies surprise to the upside, which is what I expect them to do,” said Mr Kelly.
Investors did not appear to be overly optimistic yesterday.
Eight of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 fell, led by technology stocks. Utilities and consumer staples bucked the trend.
Shares in electric car maker Tesla slumped after investors looked over the company’s late-Thursday announcement of a new all-wheel drive car. The stock lost 20.10 dollars, or 7.8%, to 236.91.
Despite the overall slide, some stocks posted strong gains.
L-3 Communications Holdings led the risers in the S&P 500, adding 7.04 dollars, or 6.5%, to 115.15.
Exact Sciences surged 35.8% after the company said its new colon cancer test will be covered by Medicare. Shares in the medical diagnostic test maker added 6.48 dollars to 24.60.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.29% from 2.31% late on Thursday.
The price of oil steadied but remained down 4% for the week on plentiful global supplies and weak demand. US crude rose five cents to close at 85.82 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many US refineries, rose 16 cents to close at 90.21 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
In other energy futures trading on the NYMEX, wholesale gasoline fell 1.7 cents to close at 2.258 dollars a gallon, heating oil rose 2.3 cents to close at 2.560 a gallon and natural gas rose 1.4 cents to close at 3.859 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In metals trading, the price of gold fell 3.60 to 1,221.70 dollars an ounce, silver fell 12 cents to 17.30 an ounce and copper was flat at 3.03 a pound.