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Bernanke the Wet Blanket — Thursday’s IP Market Recap

Early rally is tamped down with no news on a stimulus package


InvestorPlace Market RecapU.S. stocks rose Thursday on the strength of a surprise rate cut by China’s central bank and a successful bond auction by Spain. However, comments from Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke, appearing before Congress at the Joint Economic Committee, tempered hopes for immediate stimulus by the Fed and offered no indication of any impending stimulus, putting a slight damper on the day’s rally.

Still, the Dow Jones managed to hang on to through end of the day with a 0.37% gain to finish at 12,460. The Nasdaq wasn’t as fortunate, closing down about half a percent to 2,831, and the S&P finished fractionally down at 1,314.

Investors have been hopeful that the Fed will extend Operation Twist — its program of swapping short-term bonds for ones with longer duration to help keep 10-year and 30-year bond yields low — or launch a third round of asset purchases known as quantitative easing, but Bernanke gave no hint to that action.

Dow multinational stocks moved ahead on the good news from China, with United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) gaining more than 2% on the day, and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and DuPont (NYSE:DD) all up more than 1%.

Tech stocks had a difficult day. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) lost ground, dropping almost 2% after a mild rally on Wednesday, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) shed 1.3% and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) slid 0.4% after starting the day above water. Chinese-language Internet search provider Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) bucked the trend on the positive news from China, rising 2.7% on the day.

Banking stocks also saw a recent rally stall, with both Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and  Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) taking a 3% hit to their stock prices.

Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU) was among the day’s biggest losers, as the designer and retailer of technical athletic apparel lost nearly 9% on the day — despite beating expectations on revenue and earnings per share. Men’s Wearhouse (NYSE:MW) managed to beat Lululemon for the day’s worst retail stock performance, though, as shares sank 18% after failing to miss earnings expectations for the first time in two years.

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) founder Richard Schulze said he will resign as chairman from the company’s board, effective immediately, to explore options for his 20.1% ownership stake. The struggling company’s stock is off 20% this year and fell just less than 1% on the day.

Three Up

  • McDermott (NYSE:MDR): Up 7.3% (71 cents) to $10.47.
  • Select Comfort (NASDAQ:SCSS): Up 5.9% ($1.21) to $21.82. (Read more here)
  • Exelon (NYSE:EXC): Up 4% ($1.49) to $38.94.

Three Down

  • Navistar (NYSE:NAV): Down 14.4% ($4.04) to $24.11.
  • Michael Kors (NYSE:KORS): Down 6.6% ($2.55) to $36.04.
  • Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR): Down 5.2% (91 cents) to $16.57.

Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at As of this writing, he was long MSFT.

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