Retail and telecom stocks ranked among the day's biggest losers. The
S&P retail sector index <.SPXRT> slipped 0.2 percent after a number
of retailers, including Bed Bath & Beyond <BBBY.O> and Family Dollar
<FDO.N>, slashed their earnings forecasts. The S&P telecom services
sector index <.SPLRCL> fell 1.9 percent, pulled lower by AT&T and
Verizon Communications, which were the top decliners in the Dow
Jones industrial average.
Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have added 196,000 jobs last month,
according to a Reuters survey of economists, slightly below
November's count of 203,000. Hiring would, however, be above the
monthly average of 188,545 jobs over the first 11 months of 2013.
"There is a bit of hesitancy going into the jobs report and the
start of earnings season. The interest is still there for equities,
but with caution," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist of
Banyan Partners LLC in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He added that
fourth-quarter earnings will show whether corporate results can keep
up with last year's rally in equities.
The U.S. central bank said last month it would begin trimming its
stimulative monthly bond purchases. Minutes from the Fed's most
recent meeting showed its top officials were keen to steer a
delicate path and many of them stressed that future decisions were
not set in stone.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 17.98 points or 0.11
percent, to end at 16,444.76. The S&P 500 <.SPX> inched up just 0.64
of a point, or 0.03 percent, to finish at 1,838.13. The Nasdaq
Composite <.IXIC> dropped 9.417 points or 0.23 percent, to close at
Alcoa Inc <AA.N> fell 2.8 percent in extended-hours trading after
the U.S. aluminum producer reported a big quarterly loss as it took
a $1.7 billion non-cash impairment charge on past smelter
acquisitions. During the regular session, Alcoa slid 1.3 percent to
close at $10.69.
Many large U.S. retailers cut their earnings forecasts because of
steep discounts they offered during the holidays to persuade
reluctant consumers to buy. Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond fell 12.5
percent to end at $69.75 a day after the company lowered its
fourth-quarter and full-year earnings estimates.
Family Dollar reported a weaker quarterly profit on Thursday as it
discounted to win holiday shoppers. The stock dropped 2.1 percent to
close at $64.97.
[to top of second column]
Shares of Five Below Inc <FIVE.O>, a teen-oriented retailer of
trendy jewelry and other items priced at $1 to $5, also tumbled more
than 15 percent in extended-hours trading after cutting its earnings
outlook. The stock ended the regular session at $43.59, down 3.2
AT&T <T.N> and Verizon Communications <VZ.N> shares slumped a day
after T-Mobile reported a fourth-quarter boost in customer growth
and offered to pay customers to switch from rival services,
escalating already intense competition in the U.S. wireless market.
AT&T shares ended down 2 percent at $33.54. Verizon's stock slid 2.1
percent to $47.50.
Macy's <M.N> was a bright spot for retailers. Its stock jumped 7.6
percent to $55.80 a day after the department store operator reported
strong holiday sales and gave a preliminary forecast for 2014 that
suggests it will continue to outpace its rivals.
Costco Wholesale Corp <COST.O> climbed 3.9 percent to $118.51 after
the company's December same-store sales beat analysts' expectations.
The stock of Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc <ICPT.O> skyrocketed
281.1 percent to $275.87 after the company said an analysis by an
independent safety committee showed its liver disease drug met the
main goal of a mid-stage trial.
About 6.72 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, above the 6.34
billion average so far this month, according to data from BATS
Advancing stocks outnumbered declining ones on the New York Stock
Exchange by a ratio of about 8 to 7. On the Nasdaq, decliners barely
edged out advancers with 1,327 stocks falling and 1,249 shares
(Editing by Jan Paschal)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.