July 2- Summary: Wall St. ends a volatile session with a loss as investors get ready for Friday jobs report; Fed official says stimulus can be expanded or reduced; Auto sales best since 2007; oil nears $100. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street gave up early gains as investors turn cautious with Friday's jobs report getting closer. Volume was light as stocks approach the July 4th holiday, which likely added to the day's volatility and the markets ultimate downfall. Investors are jittery even though Federal Reserve officials go out of their way to say they are not close to tapering the $85 billion a month bond buying program. In fact, New York Fed President William Dudley says slowing purchases is not the only option. SOUNDBITE: NEW YORK FEDERAL RESERVE PRESIDENT WILLIAM DUDLEY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I certainly wouldn't want to rule out raising the pace of asset purchases from the current 85 (billion dollars). But what I was saying, I think, was really trying to lean against that statement - - was this idea that so called taper is hard-wired. It's not hard-wired. It very much depends on the economic news we're going to see." And the news they are seeing remains mildly positive. June was the best month for U.S. auto sales since 2007, certainly a sign of business confidence as housing demand boosts truck sales and consumer confidence as favorable terms keep smaller cars rolling out of the showroom. Meanwhile, small business lending is up sharply for a second month, according to the Thomson Reuters Paynet index for May. Paynet President Bill Phelan: SOUNDBITE: BILL PHELAN, PRESIDENT, PAYNET (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Small business makes up half of GDP, so when you have these kind of capital formation projects by millions of small companies it means that there is some investment going on, they see some optimism, they see some opportunity to grow. Now having said that, I wouldn't say we have a bull run here." Working against the market - tensions fail to recede in Egypt, where protesters remain in the streets. A fear premium is being put back into the price of oil. NYMEX crude surging towards $100 a barrel for the first time since last year. There's political turmoil in Portugal as well. The foreign minister stepped down one-day after the finance minister. The exits come as the government struggles to meet the terms of its bailout. Fear of a new chapter in Europe's financial crisis sending stocks lower in the region.