Closing Update: U.S., China Manufacturing Data Triggers Selloff, Snapping 3 Days of Gains; Late Rebound Lifts Tech Sector

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Stocks climbed off their worst levels of the day but the U.S. markets finished Thursday with steep declines after bearish manufacturing data out of the world's two largest economy sparked a selloff for equities. Mixed earnings performance also contributed to the downbeat attitudes, with all 10 of the industry sectors in the S&P 500 ending in the red although mostly positive earnings news and a fresh round of deal-making nearly lifted shares of technology firms back to positive ground.

Economic data at home and from abroad was mixed, with an index of U.S. purchasing managers showed a modest contraction in activity to a 53.7 reading in January, trailing the market consensus looking for a 55.0 reading this month. Existing home sales and first-time jobless claims data were largely in line with expectations.

Technology stocks enjoyed a late rally, lifting the sector to within 0.3% of its break-even mark for the day, led by Netflix ( NFLX ) rising to a record close after late yesterday posting better-than-expected earnings results and a strong outlook for future quarters. IBM also lent some sector support, squeezing out a moderate gain, after striking a $2.3 billion deal for its struggling low-end server division with Lenovo.

Gold took advantage of the market uncertainty today, with the February contract rising $24 to $1,262.50 per ounce while March silver added 17 cents to settle at $20.01 per ounce. March copper slid 5 cents to finish at $3.29 per pound.

Hydrocarbons had a volatile session Thursday, with March crude oil rising 53 cents to settle at $97.25 per barrel after a small rise in inventories last week. Analysts had been expecting a drop in crude stocks. The February natural gas contract flirted with the $4 mark earlier today only to finish at $4.73 per 1 million BTU, up 4 cents, as another bout of Arctic weather hit large portions of the United States.

Here's where the markets stood at end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 175.99 (-1.07%) to 16,197.35

S&P 500 down 16.39 (-0.89%) to 1,828.47

Nasdaq Composite Index down 24.13 (-0.57%) to 4,218.87

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng Index down 1.51%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.47%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.78%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) SILC, Earns $0.94 per share $25.4 mln in revenue, beating the Street view looking for EPS of $0.56 on $18.42 mln in revenue.

(+) JFBI, Agrees to $8-a-share buyout offer from HomeTrust Bancshares Inc. ( HTBI )

(+) FFIV, Earns $1.22 per share in Q1, ex items, beating estimates by $0.03. Revenue climbs 11.2% over same quarter last year to $406.5 mln, topping the Capital IQ consensus by $10.07 mln. Also, Janney Capital upgrade to Buy from Neutral.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) HRC, Q1 earnings, revenue trail analyst projections. The company also lowers its FY14 outlook.

(-) CBLI, Scraps talks over plans to further develop Entolimod as a medical radiation countermeasure.

(-) ACAT, Fiscal Q3 earnings fall short of estimates, trims FY14 guidance.



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

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: HTBI , NFLX

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