S&P 500 Limping Into the Weekend
VeriSign, grocers among Friday morning's falling stocks; Micron, SanDisk and Southwest make gains.

September was continuing its historic role as the worst month for stock markets with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index down more than 14 points, a loss of over 1.2%, to under 1,172. There is gloomy news abounding from both the U.S. and Europe concerning jobs, debt and consumer confidence. An op-ed from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in today’s Financial Times did little to restore hope among investors. Declining stocks outnumbered those gaining by better than 3-to-1. Bearish sentiment is at 55% this morning. More than 160 stocks have hit new lows today, with only 31 reaching a new high.

Down more than 12%, a loss of more than $4 a share to take the stock under $29.75, was Internet domain name provider VeriSign (NASDAQ:VRSN). The resignation of its CEO cooled hopes for a takeover — VeriSign rose more than 15% this month on hopes it would be acquired. VeriSign is up more than 12% year to date.

Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR) was off more than 7%, about $1.70, to fall under $21.70. Earnings released this morning disappointed Wall Street. Supermarket chains are facing intense competition from big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Costco. Kroger is down about 1% for the week, quarter and year.

Another supermarket chain down more than 5% was Safeway (NYSE:SWY), trading around $17.70 per share after falling about a dollar. Economic woes, dwindling consumer confidence and bargain hunting are hurting supermarket chains. Safeway is down about 15% for the quarter and the past six months.

Up more than 7% was Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) to over $6.70, picking up more than 40 cents. CNBC featured a segment Friday morning titled “Why Bulls are Charging into Micron.” Micron Technology is up almost 6% for the week.

Another chip maker rising was SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK), up by more than $1.70 per share, or about 4.5%, to around $40.25. Avian upgraded SanDisk to “positive” on Thursday. For the week, SanDisk is up more than 5%.

Taking off in early-morning action was Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV), trading above $8.20 a share, a gain of about 10 cents, or 1.2%. As with all airlines, Southwest Airlines faces high fuel costs and a weak economy. The stock is down about 6% for the week, 26% for the quarter and 29% for the year.

Jonathan Yates does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article.

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