Closing Update: Stocks Drift Lower on Light Volume; Data Disappoints, Bitcoins Nosedive


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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 ( M ) and Home Depot ( HD ), 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 "soon-ish."

Here's where the markets stand at the close:


Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 27.48 (-0.2%) at 16,179.66

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 dividends.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities
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