26 Feb 2009

Wall Street sinks as Obama warns of supervision

8:46 pm on 26 February 2009

US stocks fell on Wednesday after President Barack Obama warned of stricter oversight for Wall Street.

Mr Obama's comments near the market close rattled investors when he said financial institutions that pose a serious risk to markets should be subject to serious government supervision.

Trade was choppy on Wednesday, with stocks buffeted by uncertainty over Washington's plan to shore up the banking system and weak housing sales.

The market had turned briefly positive after the government gave details on stress tests of banks' capital levels, with investors betting that banks would be able to withstand the news tests with relative ease, before finally falling in late trade.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 80.05 points, or 1.09%, at 7,270.89.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 8.24 points, or 1.07%, at 764.90.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 16.40 points, or 1.14%, at 1,425.43.

Sales of previously owned US homes plunged much more than expected in January, pulling down shares of homebuilders and big manufacturers.

The Dow Jones Home Construction index fell 2.1%, while United Technologies and Caterpillar Inc slid more than 3%.

Bank of America jumped 9% to $5.16 and JPMorgan Chase added 3.4% to $21.73, but both pared earlier gains after Obama warned of greater supervision.