Mid-Afternoon Market Update: Markets Drop Sharply During Janet Yellen's First Conference

By Jake L'Ecuyer,

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Toward the end of trading Wednesday, the Dow traded down 1.16 percent to 16,146.76 while the NASDAQ declined 0.94 percent to 4,292.03. The S&P also fell, dropping 0.95 percent to 1,854.96.

Leading and Lagging Sectors Wednesday morning, the healthcare sector proved to be a source of strength for the market. Leading the sector was strength from Horizon Pharma (NASDAQ: HZNP ) and Senomyx (NASDAQ: SNMX ). In trading on Wednesday, basic materials shares were relative laggards, down on the day by about 0.33 percent.

Top decliners in the sector included Amyris (NASDAQ: AMRS ), off 3.2 percent, and DRDGOLD (NYSE: DRD ), down around 4.4 percent.

Top Headline FedEx (NYSE: FDX ) reported a 5% gain in its third-quarter profit. FedEx's quarterly profit surged to $378 million, or $1.23 per share, compared to a year-ago profit of $361 million or $1.13 per share. Its revenue climbed to $11.3 billion versus $11.0 billion. However, analysts were estimating earnings of $1.45 per share on revenue of $11.47 billion. FedEx projects current-quarter earnings of $2.25 to $2.50 per share, and full-year earnings of $6.55 to $6.80 per share.

Equities Trading UP Prothena Corporation plc (NASDAQ: PRTA ) shares shot up 25.81 percent to $46.75 after the company reported clinical data to be presented at International Symposium on Amyloidosis. Morgan Stanley raised the price target on the stock from $35.00 to $53.00.

Shares of Horizon Pharma (NASDAQ: HZNP ) got a boost, shooting up 7.70percent to $15.81 after the company announced its plans to acquire privately held Vidara Therapeutics International for around $660 million.

First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR ) shares were also up 19.15 percent to $68.50 after the company's analyst day and guidance thrilled the street, leading traders to bid shares up throughout the session.

Equities Trading DOWN Shares of Renren (NYSE: RENN ) were down 9.81 percent to $3.40 after the company reported Q4 results. Renren expected Q1 sales of $23.0 million to 25.0 million, versus analysts' estimates of $30.20 million.

Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE: OWW ) shares tumbled 9.05 percent to $8.14 after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock from Neutral to Sell.

SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY ) shares were down as well, falling 7.06 percent to $71.64 after the company released some disappointing guidance with its fourth quarter report on Tuesday.

Commodities In commodity news, oil traded up 0.24 percent to $99.12, while gold traded down 2.15 percent to $1,329.80.

Silver traded down 1.10 percent Wednesday to $20.60, while copper rose 1.27 percent to $2.98.

Eurozone European shares were mixed today.

The Spanish Ibex Index rose 0.56 percent, while Italy's FTSE MIB Index fell 0.43 percent.

Meanwhile, the German DAX jumped 0.35 percent and the French CAC 40 declined 0.01 percent while U.K. shares fell 0.36 percent.

Economics The MBA reported that its index of mortgage application activity declined 1.2% in the week ended March 14.

The US current account deficit shrank to $81.1 billion in the fourth quarter, versus a revised $96.4 billion in the third quarter.

Crude stockpiles climbed 5.9 million barrels for the week ended March 14, the US Energy Information Administration reported. However, analysts were expecting a gain of 2.6 million barrels.

Gasoline supplies slipped 1.5 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles tumbled 3.1 million barrels.

The Federal Open Market Committee will announce its policy decision at 2:00 p.m. ET, while the Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen will hold press briefing at 2:30 p.m. ET.

© 2014 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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

This article appears in: Investing , Economy , Futures
Referenced Stocks: FSLR , SNMX , FDX , OWW , AMRS

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