Closing Update: Stocks Drift Lower in Final Hour, Slump in Step With Existing-Home Sales
Stocks Friday gave back early gains to finish slightly lower, giving in to late profit-taking and data showing existing-home sales falling to an 18-month low. Another batch of mostly strong earnings lifted trader sentiment earlier in the session, with the S&P 500 climbing within close range of its record high set last month. The soggy close pulled the Dow Industrials and the S&P 500 underwater for the week, although the Nasdaq Composite index finished higher for a fourth straight week.
Energy stocks saw the steepest declines today, followed by the technology sector. Shares of consumer staple and healthcare companies reversed earlier advances to finish underwater while utility companies continued their strong run in recent weeks as investors look forward to strong earnings in their current quarters stemming from robust demand for power and fuel due to an unusually cold winter.
Crude oil for April delivery settled 59 cents lower at $102.18 per barrel. April natural gas turned positive this morning after a government report found another big drop in supplies last week, with the new front-month contract finishing 10 cents higher at $4.99 per 1 million BTU.
Also today, April gold rose $6.40 to $1,323.70 per ounce while March silver added 9 cents to settle at $21.77 per ounce. March copper rose 1 cent to $3.29 per pound.
Here's where the markets stood at end-of-day:
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 29.87 (-0.2%) to 16,103.36
S&P 500 up 3.54 (-0.2%) to 1,836.24
Nasdaq Composite Index up 4.13 (-0.1%) to 4,263.41
Hang Seng Index up 0.78%
Shanghai China Composite Index down 1.17%
FTSE 100 Index up 0.37%
(+) JTPY, Shares advance for a second session after the company lands a contract to process financial and data transactions at LifeMed patient kiosks.
(+) ESC, Inks $2.8 bln merger agreement with Brookdale Senior Living ( BKD ), with ESC shareholders receiving 0.95 BSC shares in exchange for each share they now own, valuing shares at around $28.33 apiece. BKD shares also rise.
(+) STRA, Q4 earnings of $1.32 per share beat analyst consensus by $0.34. Revenue falls 12.5% year over year to $124.1 mln, topping Street view by around $4.78 mln.
(-) CSFS, Falls to new, all-time low after saying it hired Rothschild & Sons as its independent financial advisor but provides no other details of its ongoing review of strategic alternatives.
(-) DHRM, Enters into securities purchase agreement with institutional investors for the sale of 737,700 common shares at $9.12 apiece, a 23% discount to Thursday's closing price.
(-) EXEL, Revenues falls 44.3% from year-ago levels to $4.35 mln, trailing expectations by $1.33 mln. Q4 net loss of $0.38 per share matches consensus estimates.