Stocks slumped in early trading before rallying to break a losing streak as President Obama officially named Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen as sitting Chairman Ben Bernanke’s replacement when he leaves office early next year.
It was a much needed-reprieve from the crisis currently emanating from the government shutdown, now well into its second week, as well as fears of a similar or even worse crisis to come with next week’s expected impasse over the raising of the nation’s debt ceiling. The Yellen announcement also comes a day ahead of an important meeting between the President and a delegation of 18 House Republicans over the stalemate that is increasingly overshadowing all other economic developments in the entire country.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.06 percent to finish the day at 1,656.40 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.18 percent to 14,802.98, and the NASDAQ closed out at 3,677.78 points, a loss of 0.46 percent.
Apparel retailer Men’s Warehouse (MW) watched shares soar nearly 30 percent on the day, closing at $45.03, after the company all but scoffed at an unsolicited buyout offer from competitor Jos A. Bank (JOSB) .
Meanwhile, the aluminum producer Alcoa Inc. (AA) kicked off earnings season for the first time since it was delisted from the Dow, with a release of its income statement for the recently ended quarter showing the company beating expectations on revenue and earnings per share, despite declining aluminum prices in recent months. The stock ended the day – percent higher, providing critical support for the S&P 500 along with Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) , up nearly 9 percent by the closing bell on CEO Meg Whitman’s comments that 2014 would be a pivotal year for the struggling former PC-giant.
On the Dow, drug manufacturer Merck & Co. (MRK) dropped a relatively slight 1.01 percent on the day after South Korea suspended a large shipment of American beef that was found to contain one of its food supplements Zilmax.
Otherwise, tech companies topped the benchmark index, with AT&T (T) and International Business Machines (IBM) ended the day significantly higher, followed closely by Intel (INTC) and Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) .
The NASDAQ staged a late rally only to severely pare back gains in the final minutes of trading, under pressure from Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA) , down 66 percent on the heaviest trading after the FDA put a hold on trials for one of the company's upcoming cancer treatments due to safety concerns. Social media-based techs also ended the day lower, with Facebook (FB) , Groupon (GRPN) and Zynga (ZNGA) taking losses.