Stocks Drop as GDP Misses Expectations, Consumer Confidence Hits Three-Month Low

Michael Teague  |

The commerce department released data on Friday that indicated that gross domestic product has grown at an annual rate of 2.5 percent for the first quarter of 2013, while an average of analyst estimates had predicted a 3 percent gain.

Meanwhile, the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey showed consumer confidence at a three-month low for the month of April though the drop, from March’s 78.6 to where it currently stands at 76.4 was ahead of forecasts of 73.5.

The Dow recorded the day’s only gain, advancing 0.08 percent to 14,712.62, lead by Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), up 2.30 percent to $20.04. Chevron Corp. (CVX) was up 1.43 percent to $120.21 after the company released earnings that beat expectations by $0.10 per share despite lower crude oil and natural gas prices during the quarter.

Aerospace and defense leader Boeing (BA) was up 1.37 percent to $92.93 and General Electric (GE) also posted a significant gain of 1.28 percent to close at $22.23 as the company announced that its Capital division would be severing ties with gun dealers.

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The S&P 500 struggled to stay in positive territory all day, and eventually ended with a 0.18 percent loss to close at 1,582.24. The biggest story on the index was by far JC Penney (JCP), up nearly 11.48 percent to $16.99 by closing on news released late Thursday of billionaire investor George Soros’s substantial 7.9 percent stake in the company. The move was seen as a vote of confidence after CEO Ron Johnson was fired earlier in the month and replaced with his predecessor Mike Ullman, who has cleaned house at the executive level, and tapped the company’s revolving credit in his efforts to effectively turn around Johnson’s disastrous turnaround plan.

Apple was up 2.33 percent to $417.88, though shares have lost nearly 23 percent since the beginning of 2013. The residential construction company DR Horton (DHI) was up 8.76 percent to close at $26.68 on the strength of a rebounding housing market, and, more importantly, a strong earnings report that showed a 49 percent increase in revenues on the prior year.

Meanwhile, AIG (AIG) dropped 3.33 percent to $40.87. News today had it that Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) had hired four of the company’s top executives. Safeway continued its losses, down 4.15 percent to $23.31, and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) was down 3.32 to $12.51.

The Nasdaq recorded the day’s biggest percentage loss, 0.33 percent to 3,279.26. Zynga (ZNGA) games was up 7.66 percent to $3.37, and Clearwire Corp. (CLWR), the small wireless communications provider, was up 3.93 percent to $3.44.

Amazon (AMZN) was among the day’s most surprising losers, down a massive 7.25 percent to $254.81 after the company’s Q1 earnings report showed underperformance in revenue both for the quarter than just concluded, as well as the current one. The results come at the same time as news that the U.S. Senate just voted to pass a new internet sales tax bill.

Chinese search-engine company Baidu (BIDU) was also down nearly 8 percent to $85.02, after Q1 earnings showed the company was nearly 7 percent underneath estimates for net income.

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