Closing Update: Dow, S&P Edge Higher, Nasdaq Drifts Lower as Markets Creep Back Toward Highs
U.S. stocks finished with small losses on Wednesday, as worries over European sovereign debt overwhelmed more positive corporate earnings reports.
Most industry sectors ended in the red, with the steepest declines among technology and healthcare stocks although no sector rose or fell more than 0.2%. Energy stocks finished slightly lower while crude oil erased early declines after a government report show inventories rose less than expected. Other commodities were mixed.
Today's declines pulled stocks off multi-year highs, after the S&P 500 closed Tuesday above 1,500 and had climbed to within 60 points of its all-time intraday high of 1,576.09. The Dow also had returned to within striking distance of 14,000 points, its highest level since October 2007.
Worries European voters could soon undo efforts to prop up the sovereign debt in several troubled countries had stocks drifting lower today. An opinion poll in Italy showed the anti-austerity campaign of Silvio Berlusconi gaining support, with the former premier drawing within 0.3% of front-runner Pier Luigi in the Feb. 24-25 elections. The results of the Tecne institute for SkyTG24 poll were lower than the survey's margin of error of 4 percentage points.
European Central Bank policymakers are scheduled to meet tomorow, adding to today's market uncertainty.
It was a light day for economic news, with the Mortgage Bankers Association reporting a 3.4% rise in its seasonally adjusted composite index for mortgage applications during the week ended Feb. 1. That reversed an 8.1% drop during the prior week while the seasonally adjusted purchase index rose by 2% to its highest level since May 2010.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration today said U.S. commercial crude inventories increased by 2.6 million barrels last week, less than the 3-million build experts polled by Platt's were expecting. Total U.S. commercial crude inventories rose to 371.7 million barrels, well above the upper limit of the five-year range for this time of the year.
Crude oil for March delivery settled little changed on Wednesday, slipping 2 cents to $96.62 per barrel. March natural gas was up 2 cents to $3.42 per 1 million BTU. April gold rose $4.90 to $1,678.60 per ounce while March silver fell 3 cents to $31.85 per ounce. March copper was down 3 cents to $3.74 per pound.
Here's where the markets stand at end-of-day:
Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.05% to 13,986.52
S&P 500 up 0.05% to 1,512.12
Nasdaq Composite down 0.1% to 3,168.48
Hang Seng up 0.47%
Shanghai Composite up 0.06%
FTSE-100 up 0.20%
(+) BIOL, U.S. regulators approve the company's 940-millimeter Diolase 10 diode soft tissue laser for a broad spectrum of medical procedures.
(+) GDP, Completes 50%-owned Crosby 12H-1 well in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, with the production rate continuing to improve to 1,250 barrels of oil equivalent per day. GDP also has a 7% non-operated working interest in the Anderson 17H-2 well, which is now being drilled.
(+) RL, Fiscal Q3 net income of $2.31 per share beats by $0.13. Revenue in-line at $1.8 billion. Expects 2% revenue growth for FY13 over last year, including mid-single-digit growth in Q4.
(+) SFLY, Reports Q4 GAAP earnings of $1.40 per share, crushing analyst expectations for a $1.01 gain. Net revenue rose 33% to $351.8 million, also beating the analyst consensus.
(+) TTWO, Earned $0.67 per share in its fiscal Q3, $0.13 above estimates. Revenue also beats, helped by a record-breaking release for its NBA 2k13 game.
(-) ELN, Sells its stake in Tysabri back to joint venture partner Biogen Idec ( BIIB ) for $3.25 billion and 12% of global net sales during the first year after the deal close. BIIB is up 2.7% today.
(-) SU, Reports Q4 operating earnings of $0.65 per year, down from a $0.91 operating profit in the year-ago quarter and also trailing analyst forecasts for the period by $0.14.
(-) HAIN, Q2 revenue that trailed analyst expectations by $17 million, coming at $455.3 million. Adjusted earnings of $0.72 per share, ex one-time items, beat the Capital IQ consensus by $0.03.
(-) INFN, Forecasts Q1 net loss that could be larger than analyst projections. Sees per-share net loss of $0.05 to $0.09 while the Street is expecting a $0.07 loss. Revenue of $115 million to $125 million is in-line with analyst projections is down from the trailing quarter.
(-) VOCS, Reports Q4 non-GAAP revenue of $47.4 million, up 55% over the final three months of 2011 but lagging the median analyst projection by $260,000. Adjusted net income of $0.24 in-line with estimates.