Mid-Afternoon Market Update: Markets Turn Up From the Lows, Fuel Cell Companies Show Weakness


Toward the end of trading Thursday, the Dow traded up 0.47 percent to 16,437.30 while the NASDAQ fell 0.02 percent to 4,357.33. The S&P also rose, surging 0.30 percent to 1,879.87.

Leading and Lagging Sectors In trading on Thursday, basic materials shares were relative leaders, up on the day by about 1.20 percent. Among the leading sector stocks, gains came from Axiall (NYSE: AXLL ), Materion (NYSE: MTRN ), Huntsman (NYSE: HUN ) and Joy Global (NYSE: JOY ).

Utilities sector was the only decliner in the US market today. Top losers in the sector included UIL Holdings (NYSE: UIL ), off 2.1 percent, and Crosstex Energy (NASDAQ: XTXI ), down 2.2 percent.

Top Headline Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS ) reported weaker-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and announced its plans to close 225 stores by 2015. Staples posted its quarterly earnings of $212 million, or $0.33 per share, up from $90 million, or $0.14 per share, in the year-earlier quarter. On an adjusted basis, it earned $0.33 per share, versus analysts' estimates of $0.38 per share. Its sales fell to $5.87 billion from $6.57 billion.

For the first quarter, Staples projects its sales to drop from the year-earlier period. It also expects earnings of $0.17 to $0.22 per share. Staples also announced its plans to pay a Q1 dividend of $0.12 per share.

Equities Trading UP Sangamo Biosciences (NASDAQ: SGMO ) shot up 16.32 percent to $22.81 announced the publication in the NEJM of the first-in-man study of genome editing using its ZFN technology. Shares of Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AGIO ) got a boost, shooting up 27.72 percent to $40.41 after the company reported quarterly results. BJ's (NASDAQ: BJRI ) was also up, gaining 21.04 percent to $33.48 after the company was upgraded toa Buy rating at Buckingham research.

Equities Trading DOWN Shares of Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS ) were down 15.30 percent to $11.35 after the company reported weaker-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and announced its plans to close 225 stores by 2015.

The Children's Place Retail Stores (NASDAQ: PLCE ) shares tumbled 7.26 percent to $50.738 after the company reported an 18% drop in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and issued a weak outlook.

Plug Power (NASDAQ: PLUG ) was down as well, falling 5.48 percent to $6.38 as sentiment on the fuel cell companies began to fade.

Commodities In commodity news, oil traded up 0.26 percent to $101.71, while gold traded up 0.79 percent to $1,350.90.

Silver traded up 1.53 percent Thursday to $21.49, while copper rose 0.36 percent to $3.21.

Eurozone European shares were higher today.

The Spanish Ibex Index rose 0.87 percent, while Italy's FTSE MIB Index surged 0.39 percent.

Meanwhile, the German DAX gained 0.01 percent and the French CAC 40 climbed 0.59 percent while U.K. shares gained 0.19 percent.

Economics US jobless claims dropped by 26,000 to 323,000 in the week ended March 1. However, economists were projecting claims to total 336,000 in the week.

US productivity rose at an annual rate of 1.8% in the fourth quarter, versus a prior reading of a 3.2% gain.

Unit-labor costs declined 0.1%, versus a prior reading of a 1.6% drop.

Announced layoffs fell to 42,000 in February, versus 45,000 in January, outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported.

US factory orders declined 0.70% in January, versus economists' expectations for a 0.50% drop.

Supplies of natural gas dropped 152 billion cubic feet for the week ended February 28, the US Energy Information Administration said. However, analysts were expecting a fall of 135 billion cubic feet to 139 billion cubic feet.

Data on money supply will be released at 4:30 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 The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Economy , Futures , International

Referenced Stocks: BJRI , PLCE , PLUG , SGMO , SPLS


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