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Stocks Falling Sharply After Disappointing Wal-Mart Earnings - US Commentary

May 15, 2014

WASHINGTON (Alliance News) - Stocks have moved sharply lower in early trading on Thursday, extending the downward move seen over the course of the previous session. The major averages have slid firmly into negative territory, with the Dow and the S&P 500 pulling back further off their record highs.

The major averages have recently climbed off their lows for the young session but continue to post steep losses. The Dow is down 147.45 points or 0.9% at 16,466.52, the Nasdaq is down 48.89 points or 1.2% at 4,051.74 and the S&P 500 is down 19.20 points or 1% at 1,869.33.

The early weakness on Wall Street partly reflects a negative reaction to quarterly results from Wal-Mart (WMT), with the retail giant falling by 1.9% in early trading.

The drop by Wal-Mart comes after the company reported first quarter earnings that missed analyst estimates and forecast weaker than expected second quarter earnings.

Traders are also digesting a mixed batch of US economic data, with disappointing readings on industrial production and homebuilder confidence seemingly overshadowing an upbeat jobs report.

Before the start of trading, the Federal Reserve released a report showing an unexpected drop in industrial production in the month of April.

The Fed said industrial production fell by 0.6% in April following an upwardly revised 0.9% increase in March.

Economists had expected production to come in unchanged compared to the 0.7% increase originally reported for the previous month.

The National Association of Home Builders released a separate report showing that homebuilder confidence has unexpectedly deteriorated in the month of May.

The report showed that the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index edged down to 45 in May from a revised 46 in April. The drop surprised economists, who had expected the index to climb to a reading of 49 from the 47 originally reported for the previous month.

With the unexpected decrease, the Housing Market Index dropped to its lowest level since hitting 44 in May of 2013.

On the other hand, the Labor Department released a report showing that initial jobless claims fell to a seven-year low in the week ended May 10th.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to 297,000, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week's revised level of 321,000. The drop pulled jobless claims down to their lowest level since hitting a matching number in the week ended May 12, 2007.

Oil service stocks have shown a substantial move to the downside, dragging the Philadelphia Oil Service Index down by 2.6% to a nearly two-month low. The weakness in the sector comes amid a decrease by the price of crude oil.

Significant weakness has also emerged among biotechnology stocks, as reflected by the 2.3% loss being posted by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. Incyte (INCY) has helped to lead the sector lower, tumbling by 8.2%.

Brokerage, airline and housing stocks are also seeing considerable weakness in early trading, moving lower along with most of the other major sectors.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.8%, while Hong Kong'sHang Seng Index advanced by 0.7%.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all come under pressure on the day. While the UK'sFTSE 100 Index has dropped by 0.6%, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index have both tumbled by 1.1%.

In the bond market, treasuries are moving notably higher, extending the upward move seen in the two previous sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 6.2 basis points at 2.481%.

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Source: Alliance News

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