Wall Street broadly falls, health and banking sectors weigh

08:37, February 04, 2010      

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Wall Street fell broadly after a two-day winning streak on Wednesday as disappointing earnings offset an upbeat survey, showing a smaller-than-expected drop in private-sector jobs for January.

Media companies Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc. both reported a jump in fourth-quarter profit that topped analysts' expectations. However, drug giant Pfizer, a Dow component fell significantly after its result lagged Wall Street estimates, dragging other health-care stocks down, including another Dow component Merck.

Earlier, Automatic Data Processing reported that the private employment sector estimated 22,000 jobs were lost in January, less than the expectations for a 30,000 decline. January's losses represent the lowest decline in private sector job losses since February 2008.

The ADP report was monitored by traders for a hint of what to expect from the Labor Department's closely watched nonfarm payrolls report due on Friday. Economists expect a rise of 13,000 jobs in Friday's nonfarm payroll report.

U.S. President Barack Obama reiterated his commitment to overhaul the healthcare system and impose stricter regulatory reforms on Wall Street in a speech on Wednesday, giving a lot of pressures on banking and health care sectors.

Meanwhile, a lower-than-expected reading in service sector also weighed on the market. According to the Institute for Supply Management, its non-manufacturing index rose to 50.5 in January, marking the first time the service sector grew since October but still falling short of market expectation.

Among stocks in focus, Toyota continued to get battered as U.S. safety regulators begin their investigation of the company's gas pedal problems. The stock plunged 6 percent to finish at 73.49 dollars per share.

As of Wednesday's close, The Dow Jones fell 26.30, or 0.26 percent, to 10,270.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 6. 04, or 0.55 percent, to 1,097.28 and the Nasdaq edged up 0.85, or 0.04 percent to 2,190.91.

Source: Xinhua
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