In a volatile trading session, the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500
Index hit a session low of 1,737.92, marking its lowest level since
October 18, before rebounding to briefly climb into positive
territory with a session high of 1,755.79.
U.S. data is being closely watched after a weak reading in the
factory sector on Monday sent Wall Street into a tailspin and
triggered a global equity selloff. Wednesday's data left investors
with little clarity about the economic impact from the harsh weather
Growth picked up in the U.S. services sector in January, with steady
strength in private-sector hiring, suggesting the winter weather
that socked the country over the last several weeks had a limited
effect on the economy.
"Clearly, we are getting that support off that 1,740 area, which has
held so far this week, at least," said Ryan Detrick, senior
technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research in
"Today's (data) almost just added to the confusion, or added to the
indecision, as to what exactly should we believe — is it
weather-related or is it not — and that is the big question that
isn't answered yet and won't be answered for a little bit of time."
Investors were also cautious with the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report
looming on Friday. Last month's surprisingly low jobs number was
discounted by many as an outlier negatively affected by the severe
But as other data has also been uninspiring, there is concern that
another weak report could be an indication of a greater
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> slipped 5.01 points or 0.03
percent, to end at 15,440.23. The S&P 500 <.SPX> dipped 3.56 points
or 0.20 percent, to finish at 1,751.64. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC>
fell 19.968 points or 0.50 percent, to close at 4,011.552.
After the closing bell, Walt Disney Co. <DIS.N> reported a higher
quarterly profit. Its stock climbed to $72.99 in extended-hours
trading — up 1.7 percent from its close at $71.76.
Twitter Inc <TWTR.N> shares slid 11.1 percent to $58.64 in
extended-hours trading after the social media company reported its
slowest pace of user growth during the fourth quarter, dashing hopes
that it can sustain its torrid pace of expansion.
In another substantial move after the close, Green Mountain Coffee
Roasters Inc <GMCR.O> shares surged nearly 40 percent to $112.25
after Coca-Cola Co <KO.N> bought a 10 percent stake in the maker of
the Keurig single-cup brewer for $1.25 billion as part of a 10-year
partnership agreement. In contrast, shares of SodaStream
International Ltd <SODA.O>, a manufacturer of home soda-making
appliances, dropped 8.9 percent to $32.60 after the bell.
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The limp data earlier in the week added to concerns about growth in
China and the outlook for some emerging market economies. A recent
rout in emerging markets' currencies spurred some central banks to
act, pressuring bond and stock holdings and luring investors into
assets perceived as relatively safe, like the yen, U.S. Treasuries
and German government debt.
Charles Plosser, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of
Philadelphia and a hawkish policymaker, said the central bank should
wind down its bond purchases faster than planned and end the
stimulus program before mid-year.
Of the 298 companies in the S&P 500 that had reported earnings
through Wednesday morning, Thomson Reuters data showed that 69.5
percent have topped Wall Street's expectations, above the 63 percent
beat rate since 1994 and the 67 percent rate for the past four
Gilead Sciences Inc <GILD.O> fell 4.7 percent to close at $78.15.
The stock was the heaviest weight on the S&P 500 a day after the
company reported quarterly results.
Shares of Cognizant Technology Solutions <CTSH.O> fell 4.3 percent
to $92.85. The IT services provider forecast slower-than-expected
Tableau Software <DATA.N> shares jumped 12.8 percent to end at
$89.61 after the data analysis software maker forecast
better-than-expected revenue for this quarter and results handily
beat analysts' estimates.
CVS Caremark Corp <CVS.N> said it would stop selling tobacco
products at its 7,600 stores by October, becoming the first U.S.
drugstore chain to take cigarettes off the shelf. Its shares
declined 1 percent to close at $65.44.
Volume was modest, with about 6.61 billion shares traded on U.S.
exchanges, slightly below the 6.94 billion average in January,
according to data from BATS Global Markets.
Declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a ratio
of about 3 to 2. On the Nasdaq, nine stocks fell for every four that
(Editing by Jan Paschal)
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