by Marc Bastow | May 16, 2012 4:50 pm
Markets bounced up and down today trying to decide whether positive developments in the U.S. outweighed negative ones in Europe. After rising to 12,722 in early trading, the Dow succumbed to the uncertainty in Europe, landing down 0.26% to 12,598. The S&P followed suit down 0.44% to 1,324, while the Nasdaq fell 0.68% to 2,874.
The Dow’s early momentum was fueled by two solid pieces of economic news, as housing starts rose 2.6% in April, and the nation’s industrial production posted its fasted growth in over a year, at 1.1%, beating estimates of 0.5% growth.
However, increasing concerns that Greece may leave the eurozone — either on its own or get forced out — raised questions about the effect on other European economies. Greek President Karolos Papoulias called for parties to set up a caretaker government to conduct new elections next month.
Weak retailer earnings reports also didn’t help the afternoon mood or stock momentum, as J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP), still reeling from Tuesday night’s horrendous earnings report and dividend suspension, dropped 20% in today to finish at $27.
Plus, casual attire maker Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) slumped 13% after it reported first-quarter net income of 3 cents per share compared to 28 cents per share a year ago. Office products company Staple’s (NASDAQ:SPLS) was another victim of missed earnings. Its stock dove 6% on lower profits and revenues mainly from weakened demand in Europe.
Target (NYSE:TGT) managed to buck the retailing trend, posting stronger revenues and earnings across the board, and was rewarded with a mild but positive 0.50% increase to close at $55.37. General Electric (NYSE:GE) also found positive ground, as the conglomerate announced its GE Capital division will once again send dividends to the parent company. GE shares climbed 3% to close at $19.
With two days to go before its IPO, Facebook announced it will increase the number of shares available for purchase from 337 million to 431 million. Coming on the heels of an increase in the range of the offering price to $35 to $38 dollars, Facebook could raise $16 billion through the offering set for Friday.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he is long GE.
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