Closing Update: Stocks End Lower as Investors Cash In Some of 2014 Profits; Markets Log Six Winning Years in a Row

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Investor pocketed their 2014 profits Wednesday afternoon, dragging the three benchmark indices lower on the final day of an overwise prosperous year - the markets' sixth year in a row to close with gains. The sell-off picked up momentum over the final hour today, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling by triple digits and leaving the blue-chip average to begin 2015 trade below its recent 18,043 high. The S&P 500 also lost ground today, but like the Dow, will start the new year within close range of its all-time high.

Stocks got an early boost after the National Association of Realtors reported an 0.8% rise in pending home sales during November over the prior month and a 4.1% gain over year-ago levels. Pending sales rose in every region except the Midwest, where the number of buyers signed contracts for new homes slipped 0.4% from October levels.

Wednesday's sell-off was broad based, with all 10 of the industry sectors in the S&P 500 posting declines. The high-flying tech sector saw some of today's steepest slide as investors sought to book a portion of the year's gain. Health care and utility stocks also came in for relatively heavy selling. Shares of energy companies also fell, were finished well above their session lows as crude oil pared its decline late in the day.

Crude oil for February delivery settled 85 cents lower at $53.27 per barrel while front-month natural gas futures fell 21 cents to $2.89 per 1 million BTU. February gold declined $16.30 at $1,183.90 per ounce.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at the end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 160.00 (-0.89%) to 17,823.07

S&P 500 down 21.45 (-1.03%) to 2,058.90

Nasdaq Composite Index down 41.39 (-0.87%) to 4,736.05


Hang Seng Index up 0.44%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 2.18%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.29%


(+) NRX, Completes safety studies of its Pyridorin drug candidate to treat diabetic kidney disease, with the drug showing no effect on normal heart function.

(+) AVRW, Agrees to $190 mln buyout offer from Pacific Ethanol ( PEIX ), which will issue 17.75 mln shares of its stock, valuing AVRW at around $10.70 a share, a 19% premium over Tuesday's closing price. PEIX recently was down 0.8% a $10.63 a share.

(+) SIBC, Agrees to $520 mln all-cash take-over offer from First NBC Bank Holding Co. ( NBCB ), which will pay $21.25 in cash for each SIBC share they current own. NBCB expects deal will boost 2015 EPS by 2.3% and 2016 EPS by 4.4% over current projections.


(-) AMZG, Suspends 2015 drilling budget with no plans to resume until crude oil prices improve. During Q1, AMZG expects to complete work on Byron 4-4, Shelley Lynn 4-4N wells at an estimated cost of $4.5 mln.

(-) SANW, Raises combined $31.7 mln, placing $27 mln of secured debentures due 2017 convertible at $5.00 per share plus warrants to buy 2.7 mln shares at $5 apiece. Also places 1.29 mln shares with MFP Partners at $3.60 each, raising $4.7 mln.

(-) PERI, Cut to Neutral from Buy in a downgrade at Chardan Capital Markets.

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

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities
Referenced Symbols: PEIX ,

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