Stocks Flat amid Mixed Data
Published on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 19:06 Written by Christopher Lynn
New York, August 15th (TradersHuddle.com) – Stocks closed near the unchanged line, with just the NASDAQ ending with modest gains amid a lackluster trading session. Participants digested mixed economic data and earnings reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 7.36 points, or 0.06%. The S&P 500 index gained 1.60 points, or 0.11%, while the NASDAQ jumped 13.95 points, or 0.46%.
The market started with modest losses after futures traded in a tight range, amid weak overseas action. The U.K. reported a slight improvement in its unemployment picture, while the Bank of England meeting minutes showed an unanimous vote to keep asset purchases and interest rates unchanged, though some members were said be considering additional easing measures.
Economic data had little impact in the futures and after the opening bell. July CPI was flat month-to-month, while the Empire State Manufacturing Index disappointed with a negative reading of 5.9. Additionally, U.S. homebuilder sentiment index rose to its highest level in more than five years, while industrial production climbed in July, matching expectations.
Most of the S&P 500 sectors ended in positive territory, with financials, consumer discretionary, and healthcare posting the biggest gains, while utilities and energy fell. Financials saw strength from banks, with Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) climbing 1.16% to $7.87, logging the best gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Charlotte, NC based lender reported July card metrics that showed default amount net of recoveries inched higher to 5.05%, while July total Delinquencies fell to 3.17% from 3.23% in June.
Meanwhile, rival Citigroup (NYSE: C) slid 0.10% to $28.74 after reporting a jump in its credit loss component in July to 4.28%, while delinquencies fell 2.39% in July from 2.44% in June.
Consumer stocks were also among the outperformers amid positive earnings news. Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF) surged to the top of the S&P 500, as shares rallied nearly 9% to $35.23 after the specialty retailer posted earnings that topped the lackluster guidance it provided at the start of the month. Also, Abercrombie announced that it was boosting its stock buyback program by 10 million shares.
Target (NYSE: TGT) was another retailer providing upside to the sector following its quarterly results and improved outlook. The stock gained 1.77% to $64.50 after posting a new 52-week high of $64.99 following earnings that beat expectations on revenues that were slightly below consensus. Meanwhile, Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) jumped 3% after Credit Suisse added the stock to its focus list.
But not all was positive; Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) plunged to the bottom of the broad market index, as shares tumbled 14.6% to $11.49. Staples logged a new 52-week low at $10.99 after the office product retailer disappointed investors by missing expectations on its quarterly results and by cutting its outlook for the year.
In the tech sector, Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) continued on its impressive rally from the recent weeks, with shares jumping 8% to $5.39. Yesterday, the company announced that it would retire $1.5 billion of 2013 and 2015 debt maturities.
Also in the space, JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ: JDSU) gained 8.24% to $11.56 after beating earnings expectations on revenue that topped consensus. The results lifted shares of Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) in the session ahead of its own quarterly results scheduled for after the closing bell. In after hours Cisco was rallying 5% to $18.23 following an earnings beat and guidance that was mostly inline with estimates. Additionally, the company boosted its dividend 75% to $0.14 per share from $0.08 per share.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) slid 0.14% to $630.83 after trading in a tight range, consolidating the recent gains that have placed the stock within range to challenge its all-time high level of $644. Rival Samsung said that its new Galaxy Note 10.1 would start selling in the U.S. tomorrow.
Elsewhere, Deere (NYSE: DE) tumbled 6.3% to $75.10 after the farm equipment maker missed on both the bottom and top lines, while offering a weak outlook. The company cited the effects of global economic conditions and the drought impacting several key markets.
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