A roller-coaster day was punctuated by a big drop at 2 p.m. sharp, when a release of the Federal Reserve meeting’s minutes put a damper on Thursday’s trading session.
Several members of the Fed expressed concerns about the growing size of the Reserve’s balance sheet, and suggested an end to the central bank’s bond-buying program sooner than investors expect. The news drove the major indices lower, with the Nasdaq ending down 0.38% to 3,100.57, the S&P falling by 0.21% to 1,459.37, and the Dow Jones off 0.16% to 13,391.36.
Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) was one of the day’s biggest losers, shedding 13% after reporting disappointing earnings and a weak outlook for the remainder of the year. The news sent competitors Dollar General (NYSE:DG) and Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) down too, though fractionally.
Limited Brands (NYSE:LTD) was among retailers reporting December same-store sales Thursday. LTD shares fell nearly 6% after the Victoria’s Secret owner’s results fell short of forecasts, while Gap Inc. (NYSE:GPS) gained 2% on better-than-expected sales and the announcement of a $1 billion stock buyback plan.
However, Wall Street wasn’t all bad Thursday.
SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) sure didn’t notice the down day. SPWR shares flared by 48% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A, BRK.B) announced it was investing between $2 billion and $2.5 billion in two of the solar company’s projects. The news sent the sector’s stocks charging, with Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL, +18.1%) and First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR, +7.6%) among notable gainers.
Shares of Spam producer Hormel (NYSE:HRL) headed higher after announcing it was buying the Skippy peanut butter brand from Unilever (NYSE:UL) for $700 million and announced a 13% increase in its dividend. Hormel shares gained 3%; UL finished down almost 1%.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) purchased privately held R2 Studios in a move to take advantage of R2’s home-connectivity technologies. MSFT also spent the day teasing the possible release date of its Xbox 720 system to coincide with June’s Electric Entertainment Expo. Neither piece of news excited investors as shares slid more than 1%.
Lastly, Burger King (NYSE:BKW) is making another run at McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) by changing its menu with the first change to its chicken offerings. Instead of selling chicken tenders, BKW will switch to chicken nuggets … a disappointment to those perfectly content with the tenders.
- Vringo (AMEX:VRNG): Up 19.9% (58 cents) to $3.50.
- Herbalife (NYSE:HLF): Up 12.9% ($4.15) to $36.28.
- Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST): Up 8% ($4.34) to $58.78.
- Rambus (NASDAQ:RMBS): Down 6.5% (34 cents) to $4.90.
- GameStop (NYSE:GME): Down 5.1% ($1.30) to $24.36.
- UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH): down 4.7% ($2.55) to $51.99.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he was long MSFT.