Wall Street falls on swine flu, banking fears

New York, April 29 (Inditop) Major US stock indices fell for a second straight day Tuesday as concerns over the economic impact of a growing swine-flu outbreak and the state of US banks overshadowed a massive jump in consumer confidence.

There were 64 confirmed cases of swine flu in five US states, and alerts have been raised across the globe. In Mexico, where the outbreak originated, more than 150 people have died of an influenza-type illness.

Delta Air Lines Inc led a drop in travel shares on Wall Street.

Shares of Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc led a decline in the financial sector after The Wall Street Journal reported that a series of government “stress tests” concluded that the struggling banking industry may need more capital.

The drops came despite some new indicators that the worst economic downturn in decades may be stabilising. The New York-based Conference board’s index of consumer confidence surged to 39.2 in April from 26.9 the previous month, the largest one-month gain in three years and the highest level since November.

Housing prices fell 18.6 percent in February compared to the year before, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, which measures markets in 20 major US cities. That was less than the record 19-percent year-on-year decrease in January and marked the first slowdown in the price collapse since 2007.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 8.05 points, or 0.1 percent, to 8,016.95. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 2.35 points, or 0.27 percent, to 855.16. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index fell 5.6 points, or 0.33 percent, to 1,673.81.

The US currency was off against the euro to 76.11 euro cents from 76.81 euro cents Monday. The dollar slipped against the Japanese currency to 96.41 yen from 96.78 yen.