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17.11.2011 17:34

U.S. stocks fell

U.S. stocks fell, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down a second day, as concern about higher borrowing costs in Europe offset a drop in American jobless claims and higher-than-forecast housing starts.

Stock-market swings may rise as this month’s futures and options on U.S. stocks and indexes expire. Trading at the New York Stock Exchange opened “as usual,” said Ray Pellecchia, spokesman for the NYSE Euronext, as protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement swarmed Manhattan’s Financial District.

Spanish bonds sank, driving 10-year yields to the highest since the euro was introduced in 1999, as borrowing costs climbed to the most in at least seven years at an auction. The International Monetary Fund won’t release the next tranche of funding for Greece until there is broad political support for the measures attached to the loan, a spokesman said.

In the U.S., the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s general economic index slid to 3.6 in November from 8.7 the prior month. Readings greater than zero indicate manufacturing growth in the area covering eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware.

Earlier today, futures erased losses as data showed fewer Americans than forecast filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance payments last week, an indication the labor market may be gaining traction. Builders broke ground on more homes than forecast in October and construction permits climbed to the highest level since March 2010.

Sears Holdings slumped 4.2 percent to $65.46. Hedge-fund manager Edward Lampert and new Chief Executive Officer Lou D’Ambrosio are emphasizing smaller stores, online commerce and licensing Sears’s brands to turn around the four-year sales slide. Retailers are having a harder time attracting shoppers, with consumer confidence at the lowest in more than two years.

Applied Materials dropped 6.3 percent to $11.69. Profit before certain costs will be 8 cents to 16 cents a share, the company said. Revenue will decline as much as 15 percent from the prior quarter, Applied said, indicating sales of as little as $1.85 billion. Analysts on average predicted profit of 18 cents on sales of $2.07 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

Jefferies slumped 5.5 percent to $9.75. Shares of the New York-based firm fell yesterday to close at their lowest since March 2009 and its bonds traded with junk-like yields that were double the level of mid-August. Jefferies came under pressure from short sellers after MF Global’s $6.3 billion bet on European debt led to an Oct. 31 bankruptcy and spurred scrutiny of similar stakes at financial firms.

NetApp tumbled 11 percent, the most in the S&P 500, to $36.23. The maker of data-storage products forecast third- quarter adjusted earnings of no more than 60 cents a share, 4 cents less than the average analyst estimate.

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