Stocks End Lower As Focus Shifts to Global Economy

by: Midnight Trader

4:29 PM, Aug 16, 2011 --

  • DJIA down 76.97 (-0.7%) to 11,405.93
  • S&P 500 down 11.73 (-1%) to 1,192.76
  • Nasdaq down 31.75 (-1.2%) to 2,523.45


  • Nikkei up 0.2%.
  • Hang Seng down 0.2%.
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.7%.
  • FTSE-100 down 1.3%.


(+) SKS reports smaller loss than expected, sales beat.

(+) RLRN gets buyout.

(+) TJX down despite earnings beat, raised guidance.


(-) URBN gives up initial Monday gain that followed mostly positive results.

(-) DKS beats with EPS but sales miss, raises guidance.

(-) GKSR beats Q4 estimates.

(-) MY misses Q2 estimates.

(-) VVTV misses Q2 estimates.

(-) HEV to restate financial results.


Stocks snap a three-day rally. Wall Street gave weaker-than-expected German growth data more weight than a mixed bag of U.S. economic and earnings reports issued Tuesday.

In addition, a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy said France and Germany would propose a financial transaction tax next month, according to published reports.

Moody's reaffirmation of a AAA rating on U.S. credit did help soothe early market jitters.

Economic data featured in today's trading:

Weaker-than-expected German GDP data is pressuring European stock averages. Germany's economy expanded only 0.1% in Q2 from the preceding three months, marking a sharp slowdown from the 1.3% growth posted in Q1. Also today, the euro zone's economy expanded 0.2% in Q2, below expectations for a 0.3% rise.

Housing remains a drag on the U.S. economy. Residential construction starts fell 1.5% in July. The Commerce Department said starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 604,000 from a downwardly revised 613,000 rate in June. Economists polled by MarketWatch had anticipated a 600,000 annualized rate for July, while many had thought June's initial reading of 629,000 was too strong. Single-family starts fell 4.9% to 425,000. Building permits, a less volatile statistic, fell 3.2% to an annual rate of 597,000 in July, and June's data also was downwardly revised, to 617,000 from 624,000.

July import prices were up 0.3% as oil prices gained early in that period before falling.

Energy stocks were weaker. Light, sweet crude for September delivery finished down 1.4% to $86.65 a barrel. In other energy futures, heating oil was down 0.06% to $2.94 a gallon while natural gas was down 1.96% to $3.94 per million British thermal units.

Meanwhile, gold futures logged a second consecutive session of gains while the dollar also gained strength. Gold for August delivery finished up 1.5% to $1,785 an ounce. In other metal futures, silver was up 1.19% to $39.80 a troy ounce while copper traded down 1.01% to $4.01.

In company news:

Shares of Marshall Edwards (MSHL) scored big in the regular session after the company announced this morning that its investigational new drug application for its anti-tumor drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The company says it plans to start a Phase I clinical trial by September.

Allstate Corp (NYSE:ALL) has sued Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), accusing the bank of hiding the risks associated with more than $123 million of mortgage backed securities it sold to the insurance company.

Shares of Electronic Arts (ERTS) were down as media reports indicate the video game developer acquired social mobil-game maker Bight Interactive. Bight focuses on so-called "freemium" games where people can play for free but must pay for virtual goods within the game environment, according to a report in the Silicon Valley Business Journal on the matter. The makes games for iOS, Android and other mobile platforms.

Shares of Icagen (NASDAQ:ICGN) were down following news that the company has mailed a letter to its stockholders reiterating its recommendation that they accept the $6 per share tender offer from Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). The company said that its board of directors has unanimously determined that the tender offer is fair to and in the best interests of the company.

Shares of Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) were down after Bloomberg reported that Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) added 9.7 million shares in the second quarter to its stake in the biggest U.S. home lender, boosting its holdings by 2.8%. Buffet told Charlie Rose in an interview to be broadcast on PBS, that his company on Monday, "spent more money in the stock market buying than any day this year."

Statoil (NYSE:STO) was up after the Associated Press reported that the Aldous and Avaldsnes oil discoveries together contain between 500 million and 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent - a great deal more than previously thought. Statoil owns a 40% stake in both discoveries.

In earnings news:

--Shares of Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) were firm in the regular session after the company said Q2 EPS from continuing operations was $1.09, a penny more than the Thomson Reuters mean. Sales were $108.6 billion, more than estimates for $108.35991 billion. The retail giant said it sees Q3 EPS between $0.95 to $1.00 and raised FY EPS guidance to $4.41 to $4.51. Estimates are for FY EPS of $4.46.

--Shares of Home Depot (NYSE:HD) were higher in the regular session. Shares are getting boost after the home improvement retail chain said second quarter earnings came in at $0.86 per share, better than the analyst consensus of $0.83 per share on Thomson Reuters. Sales were $20.2 billion, better than the Street view of $19.9 billion.

Commodities were mixed. December gold contracts were up 1.18% to $1,778 an ounce while September crude oil contacts were down 0.17% to $87.48 a barrel.