U.S. markets ended sharply lower, falling for a second day in
the wake of a string of downbeat economic reports. Today's data saw
uptick in first-time jobless claims as well as a surprise decline
in business conditions in the American mid-Atlantic region as well
as a diminished profit forecast today by Wal-Mart.
While the slumping business metrics typically would mean central
banks would continue to pour on stimulus measures, traders
continued to worry about indications yesterday that the Federal
Reserve could end its bond-buying program sooner than many market
Stocks started the session lower following Weak French and
German Purchasing Managers Index data for February. The French PMI
Services report fell to a 48-month low of 42.7, trailing
expectations by 1.8 points. In Germany, the PMI Manufacturing
report came in at 50.1, slightly below forecasts, while the PMI
Services data declined to a lower-than-expected 54.1 score.
Overall, the Eurozone flash PMI numbers missed their marks, with
manufacturing coming in at 47.8, versus the 48.4 projected, while
services plunged to 47.3, missing expectations by 2.6.
Closer to home, initial jobless claims increased to 362,000 last
week, topping expert opinion by about 21,000 applicants. The
four-week average jumped 8,000 to 360,750, slightly higher than a
The Federal Reserve in Philadelphia also reported a surprise
decline in its monthly business outlook survey with the reading
falling to -12.5 in January from -5.8 in December. Analysts were
looking for a positive 1.5 score for the month..
Also today, existing home sales rose 0.4% in January and an
annualized rate of 4.92 mln home - up slightly from a revised 4.90
mln pace in December. The limited supply of available home last
month did little to boost prices, however, with both median selling
prices and average sale prices declining by mid-single digits.
Company earnings were at best a mixed bag today, with Wal-Mart
managing a 1.6% rise despite saying its earnings for the current
quarter will likely miss analyst estimates due to slowdown in
consumer spending since early December and continuing into the new
year. But the retailer's Q4 EPS of $1.67 beat analyst forecasts by
$0.10 while revenue rose 3.8% to $127.9 bln, also topping estimates
by about $300 mln.
Commodities were mostly lower, undermining energy stocks, in
particular, while precious metals eked out small gains. Crude oil
for April delivery settled $2.38 lower at $92.84 per barrel. March
natural gas fell 3.3 cents to $3.246 per 1 million BTU. April gold
gained 60 cents to settle at $1578.20 per ounce while March silver
added 7.7 cents to finish at $28.70 per ounce. March copper slid
5.5 cents, settling at $3.55 per pound.
Here's where the markets stood at end of the trading day:
Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.34% to 13,880.62
S&P 500 down 0.63% to 1,502.42
Nasdaq Composite Index down 1.04% to 3,131.49
Hang Seng Index down 1.72%
Shanghai China Composite Index down 2.97%
FTSE 100 Index down 1.51%
(+) PRKR, Federal judge in Florida issues a so-called "Markman
Order," adopting most of the company's interpretation of key terms
in its patent fight with Qualcomm (
(+) RPRX, U.S. regulators tell the drug maker it can proceed
with Phase III testing of its Androxal drug candidate to normalize
testosterone and luteinizing hormone levels in men.
(+) MKTG, Adjusted Q4 net income of $0.07 per share beats
analyst forecast by $0.02. Revenue surged 20% to $44.7 mln, topping
the Street view by about $1.09 mln. Guides FY13 EPS, revenue above
(+) BRY, Agrees to be acquired by Linn Energy (
) for about $2.5 bln in stock. The deal significantly expands
LINE's holdings in California and the Permian Basin in western
(-) PAY, Electronic payments processor slashes its Q1 forecasts,
citing weak macro-economic conditions in Europe and South America
and delayed projects by several customers. It also forecast
disappointing results for the current Q2 ending in April.
(-) TSLA, Q4 net loss widens to $0.65 per share, $0.13 below
forecasts. The electric car-maker also said production of its
flagship Model S sedan is now on pace to produce 20,000 vehicles
yearly and forecasts "slightly positive" Q1 EPS. The Street is
expecting a $0.02 loss.
(-) GENT expects European regulators to recommend against
approving its main drug candidate intended to treat a hereditary
(-) TASR, Earns $0.07 per share in Q4, down from an $0.11 profit
a year ago but beating analyst forecasts by a penny. Revenue
climbed 51% to $432.1 mln