Wall Street was slightly off after embarking on 2014’s first full week of trading, with stocks closing lower across the board.
With the US Senate by all appearances ready and willing to formally approve Janet Yellen as the next Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, the benchmark indices were down by at least a quarter of a percentage-point each. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed the day 0.25 percent lower to 1,826.77 points, while the Dow Jones Industrials were off by 0.27 percent to 16,425.10, and the NASDAQ tumbled 0.44 percent for a finish at 4,113.68 points.
Economic data that drove stocks on Monday came primarily in the form of the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing report for the month of December reading at a six-month low, with the index down from 53.9 to 53, and coming in far short of expectations of growth during the period to 54.7.
On the S&P 500, social media giant Facebook (FB) led gainers, jumping almost 5 percent by the closing bell. Healthcare stocks were the day’s real winners, however, with St. Jude Medical Inc. (STJ) , Boston Scientific (BSX) , and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) all trading significantly higher by the conclusion of trading.
The index’s losers were lead by First Solar Inc. (FSLR) , off 10 percent after Goldman Sachs (GS) analysts cut the stock’s rating down to “sell”. Services stocks were among the day’s hardest hit, however, with substantial losses for Whole Foods Market (WFM) , Best Buy (BBY) , and Staples Inc. (SPLS) .
On the Dow, former tech leader Microsoft (MSFT) took a beating of over 2 percent on the day as the city of Boston announced that it was switching city employees and schools from Microsoft’s “Exchange Server” to Google’s (GOOG) cloud system. Intel (INTC) was also over a percent lower to finish off the day.
On the NASDAQ, micro-cap biotech firm Peregrine Pharmaceuticals (PPHM) was one of the top gainers, adding nearly 15 percent by the bell after a lung-cancer treatment in the company’s pipeline was fast-tracked for approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
While Apple (AAPL) , and Facebook, both enjoyed gains on the day, however, a number of tech stocks kept the exchange in the red. Microsoft’s losses were sustained on the second-highest volume behind Facebook, while Micron Technology (MU) , Groupon (GRPN) , and First Solar were also off on heavy trading.