The stock market has fallen for the fourth straight day after a mixed batch of readings on consumer spending contributed to a muddled picture of the economy.
The major indexes fluctuated all day in light trading. Many traders were on vacation, and those who were working had little reason to make major moves because of economic data that remain confusing.
The Commerce Department said that retail sales rose 0.4 percent in July. The number was below economists’ forecasts. It showed that consumers are shying away from many purchases.
Better news came from the University of Michigan/Reuters survey of consumer sentiment for the first part of August, which showed consumers are slightly more optimistic.
The Dow Jones industrial average is down 16, or 0.2 percent, at 10,303. The Dow has lost almost 400 points in four days.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 4, or 0.4 percent, to 1,079. The Nasdaq composite index fell 16, or 0.8 percent, to 2,173.
Losing issues were ahead of gainers by almost 4 to 3 on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume came to 866 million shares.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)