Stocks Edge Lower at Open

Moderate drop as buybacks hold back bears
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2008 9:04 AM CDT
Brian Dolan of Fortis Clearing Americas works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Sept. 19, 2008, in New York.    (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Stocks declined slightly at open, as big buybacks from Microsoft, HP, and Nike were offset by general financial sector pessimism. The Dow dropped 85 points at the bell, while the S&P fell 0.5% and Nasdaq dropped 0.6%. Microsoft rose 4.9%, after announcing a $40-billion buyback and 18% dividend boost, while Morgan Stanley rose 14% on news that Mitsubishi would buy up to 20% of the firm.

The news that both Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are abandoning the independent brokerage model to become full-fledged banks, backed by deposits, sent Goldman up 3%. Though the Treasury’s $700-billion bailout plan has, in the words of one analyst, “put a floor under the equity markets,” uncertainty remained about how much the government would pay for firms’ troubled assets.