Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wall Street clashes Restart Occupy's day of action

Police arrested protesters who sat on the ground and blocked traffic into New York's financial district on Thursday, part of a day of mass gatherings in response to efforts to break up Occupy Wall Street camps nationwide.

Police in riot helmets hauled several protesters to their feet and handcuffed them one block from Wall Street.

"All day, all week, shut down Wall Street!" the crowd chanted. The march comes after anti-Wall Street activists in San Francisco Wednesday swarmed into a Bank of America branch and tried to set up camp in the lobby. About 100 demonstrators rushed into the bank, chanting "money for schools and education, not for banks and corporations."

In New York, after several arrests, most of the protesters retreated down the street. A line of riot police followed them.

"You do not have a parade permit! You are blocking the street!" a police officer told protesters through a bullhorn. Occupy Wall Street vowed to mark the two-month anniversary of its protests with a "day of action" Thursday, beginning with a march to the heart of the financial district -- the New York Stock Exchange -- that drew hundreds of chanting, sign-waving supporters to lower Manhattan.

By 8 a.m., demonstrators had gathered near Zuccotti Park, their former encampment, chanting "All day, all week, Occupy Wall Street!" as they prepared to march the few blocks to the stock exchange. They vowed to later occupy about 16 subway stations before carrying their protest to Foley Square outside Manhattan's courthouses.

But scores of police blanketed the area near Zuccotti Park, setting the scene for possible clashes similar to those that have led to hundreds of arrests in past demonstrations. Stocks fell on Thursday as concerns over rising yields on euro zone debt outweighed another round of improved U.S. economic data.

Spanish bond yields hit 6.98 percent, their highest level since 1997, at a 10-year auction, while a French bond auction also saw high yields.
 Losses were capped after data showed U.S. claims for jobless benefits hit a seven-month low last week, while permits for future home construction rebounded strongly last month, bolstering views the economy was gaining traction.

"You can focus on the good data here, the corporate data, the economic data saying we are not in a recession. We are probably growing a little bit faster in the fourth quarter than we were in the third quarter, and that is a good sign," said John Canally investment strategist and economist for LPL Financial in Boston.

"But at the end of the day, bond yields in Europe will rule."

The 7 percent mark is viewed by investors as unsustainable, with both Greece and Portugal forced to seek bailouts after yields hit similar levels.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 49.87 points, or 0.42 percent, at 11,855.72. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index took off 7.00 points, or 0.57 percent, at 1,229.91. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 14.57 points, or 0.55 percent, at 2,625.04.

Investors have recently struggled to weigh the threat of a deepening European crisis against U.S. economic data that has been better than expected.

Economic data still on tap includes the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's November business activity survey at 10 a.m. EST.

Sears Holdings Corp's quarterly loss almost doubled as weak demand at its Sears and Kmart stores hurt sales, it reported early Thursday. Shares slumped 8.7 percent to $62.35.

Applied Materials Inc lost 3.6 percent to $12.02 as the chip gear maker gave a cautious revenue outlook late Wednesday and warned it expects to be affected by a tough economy.


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