Consumer Shares Holding Small Gains; GM Slips After Forecasting 'Modest' Industry Growth in 2014

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Consumer stocks are edging higher in afternoon trade, with shares of consumer staples companies in the S&P 500 adding about 0.1%. Shares of consumer discretionary firms in the S&P 500 are nearly 0.3% higher.

In company news, General Motors ( GM ) shares declined Wednesday, sliding under $39 each for the first time since early December after the car company forecast "modest" global industry growth during 2014, driven by gains in the United States, China and Europe.

Based on its outlook, GM said it expects adjusted total earnings before interest and tax to improve moderately over 2013 levels, with underlying operating performance more than offsetting higher restructuring costs. The company also said it expects EBIT-adjusted margins will be similar to last year.

GM has 15 new or upgraded model hitting U.S. streets this year, following 18 domestic vehicle launches in 2013. The company and its joint partners have 17 vehicle launches planned in China this year and will open four new plants in China through 2015, allowing production to rise to 5 million units per year.

The automaker late Tuesday also named Chuck Stevens as its next chief financial officer, replacing Dan Ammann, who was promoted to company president, effective Wednesday. Stevens previously was CFO of GM North America.

Shares were down about 1.3% at $39.49 each in recent trade, earlier sliding to an intra-day low of $38.96, the first time GM shares have fallen below $39 since Dec. 5.

The stock has a 52-week range of $26.19 to $41.85 a share, hitting its high-water mark for the past year on Dec. 26 after IHS Automotive forecast a 2.4% rise in North American auto sales this year over 2013 levels, reaching 16.03 million vehicles compared to the expected 15.65 million vehicles sold last year.

In other sector news,

(+) ARO, (+1.2%) The teen apparel retailer reportedly has been reaching out to at least two private equity firms as it explores strategic options, according to Bloomberg.

(-) COOL, (-20.8%) Video-game producer reports 62% year over year decline in Q4 revenue to $10.1 mln, trailing estimates by $4 mln. Non-GAAP net loss was $0.09 per share, $0.02 wider than year-ago loss and missing Street view by $0.05 per share.



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