Wal-Mart Sends Dow South

Retailers not doing so hot
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2009 8:48 AM CST
George Dietz of DRD Securities works on his handheld device late on a down trading day at the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009 in New York.   (AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)
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(Newser) – Stocks tumbled at the open today after Wal-Mart slashed its earnings estimates, driving fear in the retail sector. The Dow dropped 62, while the Nasdaq and S&P fell 0.5% and 0.7% respectively. There was more bad news on the job front, with unemployment claims climbing to their highest level since November 1992. Economists expect tomorrow’s nonfarm payroll report will show a contraction of at least 500,000 jobs.

Retailers also released ugly December sales numbers. Wal-Mart's same-store sales rose 1.7%, but after its earnings target cut, its shares fell 8%. Macy’s dropped more than 2% after reporting a 4% drop in same-store sales and a plan to close 11 locations that employ nearly 1,000 people. Sears bucked the trend, upping its estimates and earning an 8% jump in its stock price. Oil continued its fall, dropping to $41.74 a barrel.