The latest snapshot of US consumers has shown that confidence was near decade lows even before the grim realities of war in Iraq invaded TV screens, and that pervasive worries about jobs could stifle any relief rally once the conflict is over.
Blue chips scraped out modest gains on Friday as US-led forces closed in on Baghdad, but technology stocks slumped under the weight of earnings warnings from companies like software maker PeopleSoft Inc.
The US economy seems to have all but stalled in recent months #8211; or perhaps even contracted #8211; and a raft of gloomy data have economists worried that a revival may be difficult even if the Iraq war ends swiftly.
Blue-chip stocks eked out slight gains on Friday amid renewed hopes for a recovery, but the Nasdaq finished lower on near record volume as investors booked profits from a rally on news of Oracle Corp#8217;s proposed takeover of software rival PeopleSoft Inc.
The US jobless rate surged to a nine-year high in June as employers cut 30,000 workers from their payrolls, the government said in an unexpectedly gloomy report on the economy on the eve of the country's Independence Day celebrations.