US stocks extend losses

Late in the New York trading session, the Dow and S&P were trading near the lows of the day, with investors taking advantage of their last opportunity to sell before tomorrow’s employment report.

The Dow fell for a fifth successive session, dropping 0.46% or 74 points to stand at 15,815 with half an hour left to the close on Wall Street. The S&P 500 suffered a similar decline, falling 0.43% to 1785.4.

Microsoft was a notable drag on the Dow, dropping 2.7% after Edsel Ford, a director at Ford Motor Co, said CEO Alan Mulaly would not be leaving until the end of 2014. There has been some speculation that Mr Mulaly, who is credited with turning around Ford’s fortunes in recent years, might take over the helm of Microsoft from the departing Steve Balmer, who is set to retire by the end of next summer.

Shares in Apple rose 0.87% after an article in the Wall Street Journal claimed the iPhone maker had signed a deal to sell phones on China Mobile's 4G/LTE network. Such a move would open up a huge market to Apple, with China Mobile enjoying more subscribers than the US population twice over. China Mobile responded to the article by saying, ‘We are still negotiating with Apple, but for now we have nothing new to announce.’

Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart today said in a speech that he thought the Fed should issue an explicit timetable for an end to stimulus once the central bank decides to reduce its stimulus. ‘If and when the FOMC arrives at a decision to wind down asset purchases, it’s my view that it will be helpful to the transition process to provide as much certainty as possible about how this will be done,’ he said. I would agree that such transparency would likely aid stability in the financial markets.

Tomorrow attention will be focussed on November’s payroll and unemployment data and the ensuing repercussions for the Fed’s programme of quantitative easing.

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