Shares declined late in the session due in part to trades related to
options expiration, according to market participants.
U.S. home resales, also known as existing home sales, fell more than
expected in January and hit an 18 month-low as the combination of
cold weather and a lack of housing stock sidelined potential buyers.
Traders have selectively dismissed weak economic data, which is
being blamed on the extreme weather that has affected large swaths
of the United States.
An index of homebuilder stocks <.HGX> rose 0.8 percent to hit a
nine-month closing high.
"The bigger picture theme is we continue to see economic reports
that have been pretty underwhelming, but any disappointing data has
been shrugged off and attributed to weather," said Michael James,
managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los
"You would have expected that the markets would be a fair amount
lower than where they are."
The S&P 500 ended 0.66 percent below its record close of 1,848.38
set on January 15.
"The late-day selling was somewhat induced by the futures and
options expirations on the close; it's hard to put too much credence
in the market's action in the last couple hours because there's so
much positioning that has to do with where things close," James
February individual equity options and some options on stock indexes
stopped trading at Friday's close and will settle on Saturday.
Typically, options expiration is orderly, but some volatility may
occur as players unwind those positions against stock and index
products. Volume, however, was below the recent average.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 29.93 points or 0.19
percent, to end at 16,103.30. The S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 3.53 points or
0.19 percent, to finish at 1,836.25. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC>
dropped 4.135 points or 0.10 percent, to close at 4,263.41.
For the week, the Dow fell 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 dipped 0.1
percent. The Nasdaq, up 0.5 percent, scored its third consecutive
week of gains.
Giving support to equities, data showed that fund investors
worldwide poured a net $8.3 billion into funds that specialize in
U.S. equities in the week ending February 19. Inflows into global
stock funds were $13.4 billion, the biggest in 12 weeks.
Shares of Isis Pharmaceuticals <ISIS.O> surged 15.5 percent to $59
after the company said a mid-stage trial of its experimental
treatment for a rare spinal disorder showed that it increased muscle
function in children. Shares of Biogen <BIIB.O>, Isis' partner in
the drug's development, hit a record high of $349.77 on the news
before closing up 3.6 percent at $347.11.
[to top of second column]
Priceline.com <PCLN.O> stock rose 2.5 percent and ranked as one of
the S&P 500's biggest gainers, rising to close at a record $1,315.65
a day after the online travel company reported results that beat
Hewlett-Packard Co <HPQ.N> also reported results that topped
expectations, and the computer maker raised its 2014 profit view,
though its stock fell 1.3 percent to end at $29.79.
Investment firm G Asset Management said it had offered to take a 51
percent stake in either Barnes & Noble Inc <BKS.N> or in the
bookseller's Nook digital books and device business. Barnes and
Noble shares rose 5.4 percent to $17.69.
Shares of Safeway Inc <SWY.N> rose 4.3 percent to $36.84 on news
that the U.S. grocery store operator is in advanced talks with
private equity firm Cerberus Capital over a leveraged buyout deal
that may come within the next few weeks, according to people
familiar with the matter.
Groupon <GRPN.O> shares tumbled 21.9 percent to $8.03 a day after
the daily deals website unexpectedly forecast a quarterly loss, even
as it reported revenue that was ahead of expectations.
About 6.55 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, according to the
latest available data from BATS Global Markets, below the 7.0
billion average so far in February.
Despite the slight drop in the major indexes, advancing issues
outnumbered declining ones on the New York Stock Exchange by a ratio
of about 4 to 3. On the Nasdaq, about 13 issues rose for every 12
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; editing by
Nick Zieminski and Jan Paschal)
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