Stocks closed lower Wednesday, giving back small gains earlier
in the session after minutes from the most recent Federal Open
Market Committee meeting showed some policy-makers at the nation's
central bank would accelerate cutting back on their stimulus
efforts if unemployment continues its recent declines. Shares had
posted small gains earlier in the day, resisting new data finding
housing starts fell 16% last month from December levels.
The Commerce Department today reported January housing starts
slid to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 880,000, down 16.0%
from an upwardly revised 1.048 million annualized pace during the
prior month. Builders pulled 937,000 permits last month, 5% fewer
than December levels.
Also today, producer prices were up a benign 0.2% last month,
the Labor Department said, while the core rate excluding energy and
food also rose 0.2% last month. Wall Street had been expecting a
rise of 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively.
Crude oil for March delivery added 94 cents to settle at $103.46
per barrel while March natural gas surged another 61 cents today to
a four-year high at $6.15 per 1 million BTU. Gold and silver
extended their losses following the Federal Reserve minutes, with
March gold falling $4 to settle at $1,320.60 per ounce while March
silver slid 5 cents to $21.85 per ounce. March copper was unchanged
at $3.29 per pound.
Here's where the markets stood at end-of-day:
Dow Jones Industrial Average down 89.84 (-0.56%) to
S&P 500 down 12.01 (-0.65%) to 1,828.75
Nasdaq Composite Index down 34.83 (-0.82%) to 4,237.95
Hang Seng Index up 0.34%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 1.11%
FTSE 100 Index unchanged
(+) FB, Shares hit new all-time high, with the social networking
company's market capitalization rising past $175 billion, topping
) and AT&T (
). The stock is now up 25% since the start of the year and is ahead
48% over past three months.
(+) NBR, Q4 adjusted EPS of $0.21 per share, down from $0.28 in
the year-ago period but beating analyst expectations by $0.01 per
share. Revenue declined 1.3% to $1.61 bln., beating Thomson Reuters
consensus by $65.7 mln.
(+) ZLC, Signet (
) confirms $900 mln cash buyout offer for the rival jewelry
retailer, with ZLC shareholders receiving $21 a share in cash for
each share they now own - a 40.8% premium over Tuesday's closing
price. SIG also posts double-digit gains.
(-) GNK, Enters into a limited waiver of default with lenders
after yesterday missing a scheduled $3.2 million, semi-annual
interest payment on its 5.00% convertible senior notes due Aug. 15,
2015. The dry-bulk shipper has 30 days to pay up without triggering
(-) SM, Adjusted Q4 earnings of $1.26 per share trails analyst
projections by $0.20. Revenue climbs 43% to $636.7 mln, beating
Capital IQ consensus by $24.3 mln. Also today, KeyBlanc downgrades
the stock to Hold from Buy following the earnings miss last night.
The research shop also removed its price target for the stock.
(-) NPSP, Jefferies cuts investment rating to Hold from Buy with
a $38 price target. Downgrade follows biotech firm reversing
year-ago net loss, posting EPS of $0.07, also topping Street view
by $0.05 per share. Revenue doubles from year-ago period to $54.5
mln, topping estimates by $9.43 mln.
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