The rally in equity markets occasioned by Wednesday’s “taper” decision from the Fed was perhaps best described by Equities.com’s George Brooks, who earlier this morning exclaimed “FINALLY! Good is accepted as good.”
Be that as it may, Thursday saw stocks struggling to maintain the enthusiasm of the previous day, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 index retreating a slight 0.05 percent to 1,809.60, while the NASDAQ off 0.29 percent to 4,058.13 points. The Dow Industrials on the other hand added another 0.07 percent to push a new record-high close at 16,179.08 points.
The Labor Department put a damper on the previous week’s shockingly good jobs report, saying that both initial jobless claims and continuing claims had increased, in contradiction of the majority of economists’ expectations of another week of decreases.
Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) was one of the Dow’s worst performers, dropping nearly one percent on news that one of its senior managers will be charged with insider trading, while investors get impatient with the pace of the effort to find a new CEO to replace the outgoing Steve Ballmer. Chevron (CVX) , meanwhile, led the benchmark index higher on a gain of 1.33 percent, largely attributed to the cold winter weather that send natural gas prices higher on the day.
On the S&P 500, software firm Oracle Corporation (ORCL) ended the day nearly 6 percent higher on heavy trading after the company’s quarterly earnings report release surpassed analyst expectations on 35 percent increase in cloud sales. Jabil Circuit (JBL) extended yesterday’s gains, adding another 3.65 percent ahead by the close, but the index’s best performers came mostly from materials and industrials stocks, with ConAgra Foods (CAG) , Cabot Oil & Gas (COG) , and United States Steel Corp. (X) all up over 5 percent
On the NASDAQ, Ariad Pharmaceuticals continued its upward tear, adding yet another 10 percent by the closing bell. The healthcare sector has some decent news for investors, with drug manufacturer Bristol-Meyers Squibb (BMY) adding 2.4 percent on news that it would be selling its stake in a diabetes joint-ventureto AstraZeneca (AZN) .
Facebook (FB) pared back early and steep losses to nearly one percent on heavy volume after it was revealed that CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other company executives were selling off large chunks of their own holdings in the company.
Small-cap wireless services provider NII Holdings Inc. (NIHD) closed the day nearly 23 percent higher after announcing leadership changes and introducing cost-cutting measures. Investors who are interested in the small-cap space might want to have a look at our report on the best year-to-date performersin Equities.com’s Small-Cap Stars portfolio of the most promising small companies currently on the market.