Stocks Opened Lower ahead of Bernanke

U.S. stocks opened modestly lower on Friday as Wall Street waited for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speech on the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately declined 117.01 points to 11,032.81. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 12.34 points to 1,146.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 18.53 points to 2,401.10.

As prominent economists gather here for the scenic Federal Reserve’s annual summer retreat, many said they don’t expect, or even want, Chairman Ben Bernanke to try to pull a rabbit out of his hat to please the stock market. Bernanke will open the Fed conference with a speech on Friday morning at 10 a.m. Eastern.
 
The U.S. economy grew at a meager 1 percent annual pace this spring, slower than previously estimated. The downward revision will likely increase fears that the economy is at risk of another recession. Fewer exports and weaker growth in business stockpiles led the Commerce Department to lower its estimate for the April-June quarter from its previous rate of 1.3 percent growth. That means the economy expanded only 0.7 percent in the first six months of the year.

Oil prices fell slightly below $85 a barrel Friday. Benchmark oil for October delivery was down $1.12 to $84.18 in the afternoon European time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Hurricane Irene weakened to a Category 2 storm as it moved north at 14 miles (22 kilometers) per hour, posing the largest threat to the U.S. Northeast since Hurricane Gloria in 1985.

Tiffany & Co.’s net income jumped 30 percent in the second quarter, led by strong growth overseas as high-income shoppers continued to be drawn to its jewelry and other goods. Tiffany earned $90 million, or 69 cents per share, for the period ended July 31. That’s up from $67.7 million, or 53 cents per share, a year earlier.

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