by Marc Bastow | May 15, 2012 5:23 pm
Deepening concerns over the political and financial situation in Greece — and a late-day story about General Motors‘ (NYSE:GM) decision to stop advertising on Facebook — overrode strong earnings reports for U.S. companies, as the stock market fell Tuesday afternoon after starting out the day on the upside.
Market indices peaked just after noon, but the Dow finished down 0.5% to 12,632%, the S&P fell 0.57% to 1,331 and the Nasdaq slipped 0.3% to 2,894.
Politicians in Athens failed to agree on a coalition government, and the debt-ravaged country will hold new elections in June. Greece’s problems have re-ignited fears of a failure to make scheduled debt payments, potentially forcing it to abandon the euro and feeding fears of a European contagion.
Later Tuesday, GM executives said their paid Facebook ads had little impact on consumers, but did not provide details on the assertion. GM said it will continue to expand the use of marketing through Facebook’s pages, which display content at no cost. The spat adds another wrinkle to Facebook’s IPO, which is set for Friday morning.
Back on the domestic front, JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) finally rebounded by more than 1% after two days of selling sparked by revelations of a $2 billion loss on derivatives trade troubles. Embattled CEO Jamie Dimon’s day was further improved when shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve his $23 million 2011 compensation package. The rest of the sector didn’t fall in line, with Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) dropping more than 1% and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) down fractionally.
In M&A news, all the blush was wiped off of Avon (NYSE:AVP) shares, which gapped down 10% after privately held cosmetics maker Coty withdrew its offer to buy the company.
Retailers had an up-and-down day Tuesday. Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) managed to easily outpace estimated earnings and revised future earnings upward; DKS stock similarly climbed, up 6% to close at $50. Meanwhile, retailer TJX (NYSE:TJX) reported strong results, with earnings up 58% in the quarter over last year, and the results sent TJX shares up 6% on the day.
However, Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Saks (NYSE:SKS) went the other way. Home Depot dropped 2.5% despite matching analyst estimates and generally reporting strong sales news, while Saks went flat after a warning about a second-quarter profit squeeze.
The real retail loser, though, came after the bell. J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) announced a net loss of 75 cents per share due to restructuring charges, issued forward guidance that anticipates additional losses and discontinued its dividend. Shares of JCP were down 11% in early after-hours trading.
Tomorrow’s earnings reports include Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS), Target (NYSE:TGT) and Limited Brands (NYSE:LTD).
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he does not hold any of the above mentioned securities.
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