New York: As the ongoing housing slump cause stocks to slide Monday, 27 August, Safeway slipped on a sell rating, Onyx Pharmaceuticals surged on a clinical trial triumph and Altria Group advanced on the prospect of a spinoff.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 56.74, or 0.4%, to 13,322.13. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index lost 15.44, or 0.6%, to 2561.25, having fallen back in just two of the last seven sessions. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 12.58, or 0.9%, to 1,466.79. The New York Stock Exchange Composite Index fell 78.11, or 0.8%, to 9,528.93.
Investors wanted little to do with stocks after word that existing-home sales fell during July, a fifth straight decline, while inventories of unsold property climbed and prices dropped.
The data continued a lengthy trend but still had an impact. “This showed us how fractured and uncertain the housing market still is,” said John Twomey, managing director for institutional equities trading at Merriman Curhan Ford. “Until there are signs of stabilization, what goes on in the housing market will remain an important factor in traders’ and investors’ decision making.”
Safeway lost 1.05, or 3.2%, to 31.89. Merrill Lynch downgraded the supermarket chain’s shares to sell from neutral, expecting them to underperform through the rest of 2007 and likely into 2008.
Altria Group rose 89 cents, or 1.3%, to 70.08. The tobacco company is expected to announce a spinoff of its Philip Morris International arm after a board meeting Wednesday.
Onyx Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq) rose 3.42, or 10%, to 37.04. The biopharmaceutical company and partner Bayer AG said they ended a Phase III clinical trial for their oncology drug Nexavar early because of better-than-expected results, with the US Food and Drug Administration expected to decide on whether to approve the treatment for liver cancer within six months. Bayer AG’s American depositary receipts lost 1.48, or 1.9%, to 76.78.
Volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 1.1 billion shares. Down volume beat up by 841 million to 252 million, and stocks that fell in value exceeded those that rose, 2,356 to 996.