Markets post losses in late-summer lull
The stock market's late-summer lull is about to end.
Stocks fell Thursday, with investors too worried about high gas prices and stagnant employment to be impressed by higher consumer spending. But trading volume was light, the market's direction was steady, and there wasn't much in the way of major economic news.
That could all change Friday. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to speak at 10 a.m., and investors will be listening closely for his opinion on the economy and whether the Fed will take more action to try to prop it up.
Scott Freeze, president of Street One Financial in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., had the feeling that he was experiencing the calm before the storm. "There's so little going on, it's all wait-and-see before Bernanke's speech," Freeze said.
For much of August, with traders on vacation and a dearth of major economic news, the market has lumbered. On Thursday, about 2.4 billion shares were traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The average for the year so far is about 3.7 billion.