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US Stocks End Week Mixed - 2001-07-27


U.S. stock prices were mixed Friday, with not a lot of movement in either direction. Investors seemed to shrug off new data showing the weakest growth for the U.S. economy in eight years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 38 points, for a fractional loss, to 10,416. The broader Standard and Poor's 500 index and the tech-weighted Nasdaq composite both moved fractionally higher.

The Dow Industrials lost about 1.5 percent for the week. The Nasdaq finished unchanged.

A huge profit loss, maybe the largest in corporate history, by fiber-optics equipment company JDS Uniphase weighed on the market. JDS also announced 7,000 more job cuts.

The latest on the U.S. economy shows second-quarter Gross Domestic Product was up just .7 percent, the slowest growth since the first quarter of 1993. And, consumer confidence edged lower this month. Experts said it was a reaction to the growing list of corporate layoffs and the flat stock market.

Experts anticipated a weak second quarter for the economy. But the numbers actually were slightly lower than many had predicted. Dana Johnson, an economist with Bank One Securities, says the second-quarter was all about lower spending. "We sort of have a 'glide' path going on in the consumer sector," she said. "Their growth keeps slipping a little bit, down to two percent this quarter, and pretty much a disaster in the capital spending sector."

Gary Thayer, chief economist for the AG Edwards investment firm, says the economy has been harder hit than many thought it would be. But he believes the worst of it may be coming to an end. "I think a lot of people would find it hard to characterize this as a 'soft' landing. It's been a really rough landing. But I think we are probably near the weakest point in the slowdown. The leading indicators index, we think, is beginning to show the economy can do better in the second half of the year. And, we're pretty encouraged with the tax rebates coming out this quarter that consumer spending will hold up."

A cautionary note, this is not the end of the second-quarter GDP story. The numbers are subject to two separate revisions, taking into account June data that did not arrive in time to be included in the calculations. Experts say the outcome could go either way, including the possibility of a downward push toward negative growth.

In other news, the U.S. Justice Department is said to be ready to go to court to block the proposed acquisition of US Airways by United Airlines. Antitrust regulators say the merger of the number two and number six U.S. air carriers would hurt competition on more than 30 routes and travelers could face higher fares.

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