The major indexes squandered a day-long rally as financials stocks led a late retreat and the indexes closed mixed. The Dow gained 46 points, while the Nasdaq lost 13 and the S&P 500 declined by less than one point. Sixteen of the Dow’s 30 components gained ground, led by United Technologies Corp. (UTX), which rose 2%. Volume was light, and declining issues outnumbered advancers by seven to six on the NYSE and by four to three on the Nasdaq. The prices of Treasuries weakened, while the price of gold futures lost 2.82% to $1,588.00 an ounce. The price of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange slipped lower by 0.23% to $84.82 a barrel.
In Earnings News:
- The price of the shares of lululemon athletica (LULU) fell 8% after the maker of yoga apparel forecast quarterly sales and earnings that are below Wall Street’s expectations.
In Other Business News:
- Fitch Ratings announced it would downgrade United States federal debt in 2013 if the government doesn’t come up with a “credible” plan to deal with the growing deficit. Fitch also warned that if Greece pulls out of the eurozone, it would immediately cut the ratings of Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and Cyprus and put all the other euro nations on a negative ratings watch list for six months that could lead to downgrades if measures aren’t taken to strengthen their finances.
- China’s central bank reduced a key interest rate by 25 basis points in an effort to boost the nation’s economic growth rate, which has showed signs of slowing down in recent months. It is the first rate cut since the global financial crisis hit in 2008. Many economists forecast that China’s growth rate will slow in the current quarter to roughly 7.9%, which would make this the sixth consecutive quarterly slowdown.
- New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week by 12,000 to 377,000, according to the Labor Department. It was the first decline in new claims in five weeks.
- Testifying before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed stands ready to act to boost the economy if it weakens, and he noted that the European debt crisis poses risks and the job market remains weak. But he gave no sign that a Fed action is immanent at the next regularly scheduled policy meeting on June 19 and 20. "As always, the Federal Reserve remains prepared to take action as needed to protect the U.S. financial system and economy in the event that financial stresses escalate," he said.
I hadn’t been watching the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in detail, but every now and then I caught a glimpse of the goings-on and it looked like Great Britain was having a good party. Now, I know there are Brits who think the monarchy should be tossed into the dustbin of history, but watching these celebrations convinced me that the dustbin should wait. Obviously, the monarchy is part of British history, culture, and national identity. Throwing that out would be a mistake. What would they replace it with? Movie stars sporting artificial body parts and prison records?
Also, the pomp and silliness is obviously invigorating to the British. For pomp, the queen rides for hours up the Thames River in a barge. For silliness, well, please, I can’t begin to select from the smorgasbord of fun. Well, OK, here’s one: The citizens of Abingdon have been celebrating royal events for two and a half centuries by throwing currant buns from the roof of the town hall. For this jubilee, Abingdon asked a TV personality to devise a cannon that would shoot buns off the roof, and the bun cannon was duly pitted against two champion human bun-throwers as 6,000 currant buns were conveyed to the watching, cheering, laughing crowd. Cool.
Maybe we should try this at the next presidential inauguration. Here are 10 things that could be fired from the rooftops of city halls around the country.
- In Philadelphia: cheese steaks
- In Atlanta: overripe peaches
- In Boise: spuds, obviously (hey, they already have the cannon)
- In Madison: cheese curds
- In Dallas: barbecued baby back ribs
- In Washington , D.C.: paper
- In Denver: Rocky Mountain oysters
- In Los Angeles: implants
- In New York: subpoenas
- In Boston: baked beans