Mid-Afternoon Market Update: Markets Mixed as Geron Shares Take a Beating Following FDA Release

By Jake L'Ecuyer,

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Toward the end of trading Wednesday, the Dow traded down 0.23 percent to 16,312.32 while the NASDAQ gained 0.16 percent to 4,314.46. The S&P also fell, dropping 0.15 percent to 1,864.70.

Leading and Lagging Sectors Utilities sector gained by 0.40% in today's trading. The top gainers in the sector included New Jersey Resources (NYSE: NJR ), SJW (NYSE: SJW ) and CPFL Energia SA (NYSE: CPL ). Telecommunications services sector was the leading decliner in the US market today.

Among the sector stocks, China Techfaith Wireless Communication Technology (NASDAQ: CNTF ) was down more than 20 percent, while China Unicom (Hong Kong) (NYSE: CHU )tumbled around 4.3 percent.

Top Headline Express (NYSE: EXPR ) reported a drop in its fourth-quarter profit and issued a weak outlook. Express expects Q1 profit of $0.12 to $0.18 per share and full-year profit of $1.03 to $1.23 per share. However, analysts were expecting a Q1 profit of $0.42 per share and full-year profit of $1.59 per share. Express posted its quarterly profit of $47.9 million, or $0.57 per share, versus a year-ago profit of $63.9 million, or $0.75 per share. However, analysts expected a profit of $0.59 per share.

Equities Trading UP EPL Oil & Gas (NYSE: EPL ) shot up 29.73 percent to $37.77 after Energy XXI (NASDAQ: EXXI ) announced its plans to buy EPL Oil & Gas for about $1.53 billion.

Shares of Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD ) were up as well, gaining 6.99 percent to $6.89 after the company caught an upgrade from Goldman Sachs before the market open Wednesday.

VeriFone Systems (NYSE: PAY ) was also up, gaining 10.39 percent to $32.30 after the company reported upbeat fiscal first-quarter results and issued a strong full-year earnings forecast. VeriFone posted its quarterly earnings of $0.31 per share, beating analysts' estimates of $0.27 per share. Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock from Sell to Hold and lifted the price target from $18.00 to $29.00.

Equities Trading DOWN Shares of Express (NYSE: EXPR ) were down 12.50 percent to $15.96 after the company reported downbeat Q4 earnings and issued a weak forecast.

Raven Industries (NASDAQ: RAVN ) shares tumbled 10.72 percent to $35.49 after the company reported fourth-quarter results.

Geron (NASDAQ: GERN ) was also down, falling 61.70 percent to $1.69 after the FDA suspended its key Myelofibrosis drug on liver safety concerns, sending bulls running for the hills.

Commodities In commodity news, oil traded down 2.14 percent to $97.89, while gold traded up 1.77 percent to $1,365.60.

Silver traded up 2.10 percent Wednesday to $21.28, while copper rose 0.29 percent to $2.96.

Eurozone European shares were lower today.

The Spanish Ibex Index fell 0.92 percent, while Italy's FTSE MIB Index declined 0.18 percent.

Meanwhile, the German DAX tumbled 0.74 percent and the French CAC 40 declined 0.82 percent while U.K. shares fell 0.60 percent.

Economics The MBA reported that its index of mortgage application activity declined 2.10% in the week ended March 7.

Crude stockpiles rose 6.2 million barrels for the week ended March 7, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported. However, analysts were expecting a gain of 2.3 million barrels.

Gasoline supplies dropped 5.2 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles slipped 500,000 barrels.

The US Treasury monthly budget report for February will be released at 2:00 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: CNTF , EXXI , GERN , RAVN , CHU

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