Close Update: Stocks Return Early Gains, Defensive Plays Outperform
Wall Street relinquished earlier gains and closed significantly lower for a second day amid defensive positioning before manufacturing data from the U.S. and China, as well as Friday's critical jobs report. Despite a 3% gain in oil futures, investors bailed out of energy stocks and into defensive assets like telecom and utility stocks and precious metals, all of which closed on the plus side today. Treasury yields were also lower with the 10-year note trading 3 basis point richer at a 1.73% yield.
Stocks were higher at the open on gains in oil as well as bearish economic data that dimmed the likelihood for a March rate hike. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose steadily into 16,750 gaining as much as 87 points. By mid-morning, gains were already being surrendered with selling pressure accelerating into the close. Although the Dow narrowly missed a negative end to the month, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed lower for a third straight month.
Monday's economic data indicated contraction in regional manufacturing, and pending home sales at a one-year low. Although the data encouraged early gains, it also contributed to uncertainty surrounding the March Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
Tuesday's data includes the final PMI manufacturing index for February (expected 51.3), the February ISM manufacturing index (expected 48.5) and January construction spending (expected +0.5%)
Here's where the markets stood at the close:
Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 123.47 points (-0.74%)
S&P 500 was down 15.82 points (-0.81%)
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 32.52 points (-0.71%)
FTSE 100 was up 0.02%
Nikkei 225 was down 1.00%
Hang Seng Index was down 1.30%
Shanghai China Composite Index was down 2.86%
(+) ATNY (+93.07%) Agrees to takeover by J.F. Lehman affiliate for $2.00/share in cash
(+) FDML (+45.78%) Carl Icahn offered to buy remaining stock for $7 per share; Q4 EPS beat estimates on lower-than-expected revenue
(+) BSFT (+17.22%) Reported better-than-expected Q4 results
(+) TASR (+10.87%) Beat Q4 estimates and announced $50 million share buyback plan
(-) IPI (-55.41%) Q4 results miss street expectations
(-) OCN (-39.19%) Missed Q4 revenue estimates, reported a much wider-than-expected loss per share
(-) VRX (-18.44%) Under investigation by the SEC
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