U.S. Stocks Drop After GE Estimates Cut; Ford Falls on Forecast

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) — U.S. stocks fell and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index extended its worst monthly drop in six years as General Electric Co.’s profit estimates were cut and an industry report showed manufacturing contracted more than forecast.

GE, the second-largest U.S. company by market value, dropped 7.4 percent as Deutsche Bank AG said profits will be hurt by “deterioration” at its financial-services unit. Ford Motor Co. tumbled 7.9 percent after saying earnings in Europe will decline. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. tumbled 6 percent to lead declines in all 40 energy companies in the S&P 500 as crude prices slid on speculation the economy will slip into recession.

The S&P 500 lost 22.2, or 1.9 percent, to 1,144.16 at 10:05 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 176.82, or 1.6 percent, to 10,673.84. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 28.11, or 1.3 percent, to 2,063.77. About four stocks declined for each that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

“The cards are on the table and a recession is coming,” Henry Herrmann, chief executive officer of Waddell & Reed Financial Inc. in Overland Park, Kansas, which manages $70 billion, told Bloomberg Television. “Our focus is going to be on things like dividend yields, solid brand names, consumer staples, less cyclical exposure.”

The S&P 500 erased about one-third of its 5.4 percent gain yesterday. Stocks extended declines after the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index for September slid to 43.5, below the 49.5 reading forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.

The benchmark index for U.S. equities jumped the most in six years yesterday as expectations grew that lawmakers will salvage a $700 billion rescue package to buy bad loans from banks. Even with yesterday’s advance, the S&P 500 had its worst month since 2002 in September, declining 9.1 percent, and tumbled 8.9 percent for the third quarter.

GE Tumbles

GE lost $1.89 to $23.61. Deutsche Bank AG analysts cut their 2008 earnings estimate 9 percent to $2 a share and their 2009 profit projection to $1.95 a share. The worsening in conditions at GE Capital is “driven by tighter credit markets, asset shrinkage and debt pay-down,” analyst Nigel Coe wrote in a research note. “We also eased back our industrial assumptions,” Coe said.

“More important than the bailout plan will be next year’s economy,” Marc Faber, managing director of Marc Faber Ltd. and publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. “I would rather sell on strength.”

`Clarifications’

Banks slid on speculation regulators will reject calls to suspend fair-market accounting rules that some members of Congress blame for worsening credit-market losss.

Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank by market value, lost 78 cents to $34.22. Citigroup Inc., the fourth- biggest, slipped 1.1 percent to $20.29.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Accounting Standards Board issued “clarifications” on how banks should interpret existing rules requiring them to review assets each quarter and report losses if values decline. A moratorium isn’t being considered, said people who declined to be identified because the plan hasn’t been completed.

SEC spokesman John Nester declined to comment. FASB spokesman Neal McGarity didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.

Ford Slumps

Ford Motor Co. dropped 41 cents to $4.79. The world’s third-largest automaker said second-half profit at its European unit will decline on sagging demand for new vehicles and rising raw-material costs.

Cabot Oil & Gas slid $2.21 to $33.93, leading the S&P 500 Energy Index to a 2.9 percent tumble. Crude for November delivery fell $1.74, or 1.7 percent, to $98.90 a barrel. Prices are down 33 percent from the record $147.27 a barrel reached on July 11.

The Senate agreed to vote on the banking legislation along with a measure temporarily raising the limit on federal deposit insurance to $250,000 from $100,000. Also linked to the legislation is a two-year extension of tax breaks that will save individuals and corporations about $149 billion over the next decade.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said in a Bloomberg Television interview that U.S. lawmakers must pass a rescue package “for the sake of global finance.” He added that a pan-European approach to the banking crisis is unlikely, saying “we are not a fully-fledged federation with a federal budget.”

Europe’s Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index gained 1 percent, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 1.6 percent. The yield on the two-year Treasury note fell 6 basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 1.9 percent.

Libor Retreats

The cost of borrowing in dollars overnight fell from a record after funding constraints tied to the end of the third quarter passed, easing an unprecedented freeze in lending between banks. The London interbank offered rate, or Libor, that banks charge each other for overnight loans slid 308 basis points today to 3.79 percent.

The paralysis in credit markets is changing how U.S. companies do business as banks pull back on loans or make them prohibitively expensive. Some companies are closing plants and stores, postponing takeovers and grabbing any available credit in a fight for survival.

Carmike Cinemas Inc., the third-largest U.S. theater chain by screens, suspended its dividend, while Duke Energy Corp., owner of utilities in five U.S. states, tapped $1 billion from a credit agreement and RC2 Corp., the maker of infant and preschool products, canceled an acquisition.

Companies in the U.S. cut an estimated 8,000 jobs in September, less than forecast, a private report based on payroll data showed. The drop followed a revised 37,000 decrease in August that was larger than previously estimated, ADP Employer Services said.

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