Midday on the fly: Polypore gains, SanDisk loses
Stocks fall after Fed dashes hope for further stimulus.
Stocks on Wall Street were sharply lower midday Wednesday, as the slide that began after Tuesday's release of the Federal Open Market Committee minutes deepened. The comments that sank the market revolved around the lack of additional stimulus, ruling out at least for the time being any semblance of further quantitative easing. Though Fed Chairman Bernanke said as much last month, the market reacted strongly late yesterday and again today after digesting the implications further.
The economic data released Wednesday was generally in line with expectations, but did little to improve the dour tone of the market.
Near noon, the Dow was down 145.95, or 1.11%, to 13,053.60; the Nasdaq was down 53.46, or 1.72%, to 3,060.11; and the S&P 500 was down 15.89, or 1.12%, to 1,397.49.
In the U.S., ADP said the private sector added 209,000 jobs in March, just exceeding forecasts for the addition of 206,000 jobs. The ISM non-manufacturing index had a reading of 56.0, versus expectations for 56.8. Crude oil inventories built up by much more than expected, growing by 9 million barrels. In Europe, Spain's bond yields rose, following the country's first auction since its new austerity budget was announced. Also, the European Central Bank left its benchmark rate unchanged at 1.0%.
IBM (IBM) shares were downgraded to "neutral" from "buy" at Bank of America's Merrill Lynch, which cited valuation and limited earnings upside in the near-term, though the firm did raise its price target on the stock to $215 from $205.
Moody's downgraded the debt ratings of General Electric (GE) and its finance unit, General Electric Capital Corporation.
Yahoo! (YHOO) confirmed that it will cut about 2,000 jobs as part of a restructuring that new CEO Scott Thompson said will result in a "smaller, nimbler, more profitable" company.
Among the notable gainers were Polypore (PPO), after William Blair said General Motor's (GM) decision to restart Volt production earlier than planned could be a positive for the battery component supplier, and DDi Corp. (DDIC), on news it will be acquired by Viasystems Group (VIAS) for $13 per share.
Noteworthy losers included SanDisk (SNDK), after the company lowered its Q1 revenue guidance, and WebMD (WBMD), after the company said it expects to acquire about 5.77 million shares of its common stock at a price of $26 per share pursuant to its completed modified "Dutch auction" tender offer.
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