Stocks drifted lower into the close, giving up modest gains as
the absence of any positive economic news, coupled with a failure
to pierce the record high in the S&P 500 resulted in a lower
close for all three major indices.
Although retail stocks were buoyed by better than expected
earnings for Macy's (
) and Home Depot (
), downbeat consumer confidence weighed on blue-chips, especially
financial and industrial stocks.
The severe winter weather continues to take a toll on the U.S.
economy with consumer confidence and business activity in the
Richmond Fed region the latest to suffer. The Conference Board said
that confidence deteriorated to 78.1 in February from a downwardly
revised 79.4. This was followed by a significant decline in the
Richmond Fed business activity index, to -6.0 in February from
+12.0 the month prior, and well below estimates of +3.0.
Although housing prices are appreciating, both Case-Shiller and
the Federal Home Financing Agency found that the pace of growth is
starting to slow. Both indices showed a 0.8% gain in December and
beat their respective estimates of +0.6% and +0.3%.
In other news, bitcoins went into a freefall today after the
world's largest exchange for the virtual currency was taken
offline. Tokyo's Mt Gox was suddenly shut-down leaving angry
investors unable to withdraw funds from their "virtual wallets."
The halt comes amid allegations of theft and swelling liabilities,
as well as a rapid depreciation in its value -- from $1,000 late
last year to a record low of $418 today (unofficially, the coin was
trading as low as $200 as investors poured out of the currency).
The exchange's CEO said they would have an official announcement
Here's where the markets stand at the close:
Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 27.48 (-0.2%) at
S&P 500 was down 2.5 (-0.1%) at 1,845.12
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 5.4 (-0.1%) at 4,287.59
FTSE 100 was down 0.52%
Nikkei 225 was up 1.44%
Hang Seng Index was down 0.32%
Shanghai China Composite Index was down 2.04%
BLMN Reported better than expected earnings
ITMN Data shows drug slows pulmonary fibrosis progression
ZU Reported much better than expected Q4 results
ROSE Missed revenue estimates and downgraded by Howard Weil
EVRY CEO John Sheppard resigned on Monday
CCCL Declared two semi-annual cash dividends of $0.0125 per
share, sharply down from the prior year's $0.10 semi-annual cash