June 28 - Summary: Weakness in shares of IBM led to a late-day slump for the Dow, but stocks see best first half of the year since 1998; BlackBerry walloped as future in doubt again. Conway G. Gittens reports.
A tumultuous quarter ends with a partial sell-off as investors ponder what's next for the second-half of the year after Wall Street has its first down month in eight. The Dow and S&P 500 ended Friday with losses, but the Nasdaq squeaked out a gain. But the numbers were better for the week: up 0.7 percent for the Dow and 1.4 percent for the Nasdaq. BlackBerry is the story of the day. The device maker missed profit targets with a loss, warned of another losing quarter, and refused to give a subscriber growth forecast. CEO Thorstein Heins, however, told analysts the company's five-month turnaround is still on track. But there's a lot of doubt. Sales for the company's newest devices were disappointing. BlackBerry shares lost more than one-fourth of their value as signs of a turnaround fade. But International Business Machines had a bigger impact on psychology one day after consulting firm Accenture cast doubt on a revival in demand for technology services. IBM, a long-time blue chip, shed 2.3 percent. Accenture gave up more than 10 percent. In other corporate news, General Electric is looking to ditch its CareCredit healthcare financing business, which is part of GE Capital, according to sources. People familiar with the matter say the unit could fetch about $2 billion. GE did not return request for comment. On to the economy now, the final reading on consumer sentiment for June held near a six-year high. Sentiment among higher-income shoppers held up despite higher interest rates and a turbulent stock market. Growth in Midwest business activity saw its sharpest slowdown in over four years, but that is being blamed on "unseasonable weather conditions." Finally, turning to Europe - a down session Friday put the finishing touches on the first quarterly loss in a year.