May 31 - May was the worst month for the Dow and Nasdaq in two years and the S&P 500 suffered its worst month since September; a new record low for the 10-year note yield as soft U.S. economic data coupled with worries about Europe gave bears the upper hand. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street scaled back big losses amid hopes talks between the International Monetary Fund and Spain could lead to a bank bailout. But not before the yield on the 10-year note fell to a record low, touching 1.533 percent. Blue chips turned lower late in the day but losses were minimal across the board. Little help for the month of May, where the Dow and Nasdaq suffered their biggest drops in two years. The decline was even bigger for NYMEX crude. Oil was down 17-1/2 percent, the biggest monthly tumble in 3-1/2 years. /// Much of the day was focused on signs pointing to tepid U.S. economic growth. Weekly jobless claims rose closer to a level that suggests hiring has stalled. In fact, layoff announcements are at an 8-month high in May, according to consultants Challenger, Gray and Christmas. And at the same time, job growth in the private sector is slower than expected in a survey by payroll company ADP. Business activity in the midwest expanded at a slower rate than the month before as new orders plunge to a more than 2-1/2 year low. And the economy, as a whole, grew slower in the first quarter than first thought. The only bright spot was the consumer: chain store sales at locations opened more than a year topped expectations. Shoppers were still hitting the mall despite making earlier trips because of unusually warm weather. /// In other news: Facebook shares closed meaningfully higher for only the second time since going public two weeks ago. European stocks closed mixed for the day, doing little to cap the worst monthly loss in 9 months. Conway Gittens, Reuters