Investors weren’t willing to push stocks higher Wednesday just a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 closed at new five-year highs — especially in the face of mixed housing data and Fed minutes that indicated some concern about continued bond-buying.
The Nasdaq took the biggest hit, losing 1.53% to close at 3,164.41, while the S&P 500 shed 1.24% to 1,511.95 and the Dow fell 0.77% to 13,927.54. Gold also closed at a seven-month low of $1,561.60 per ounce.
On the merger front, Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) and Office Max (NYSE:OMX) made it official, announcing they will merge in an all-stock transaction valued at $1.2 billion. Both stocks started the day higher, but plunged after details of the deal were released. ODP finished Wednesday down more than 16%, while OMX fell 7%. Sectormate Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) fell 7% in sympathy.
An unexpected 8.5% decline in housing starts coupled with an earnings miss at Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) hit the entire sector. TOL dropped 9%, and Ryland (NYSE:RYL, -8.3%), KB Home (NYSE:KBH, -7.5%) and Pultegroup (NYSE:PHM, -6.8%) also fell hard.
Shares of equipment maker Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) sank over 2% helping to lead the Dow lower as sales of the company’s mining and construction equipment fell 4% worldwide in the three-month period ending January 31.
Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) announced record Q4 and full-year revenues and earnings, and gave a rosy outlook for 2013 … but that did nothing to help the stock, which fell nearly 5%.
Navigation and communications device maker Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN) led the Nasdaq lower Wednesday, falling over 9% after missing on both Q4 and full-year earnings estimates.
Finally, after eclipsing the $800 mark and setting all-time highs Tuesday, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) cooled off just less than 2% to finish under $793 per share.
- Allscripts Healthcare (NASDAQ:MDRX): Up 13.8% ($1.54) to $12.72.
- La-Z-Boy (NYSE:LZB): Up 11.5% ($1.77) to $17.23.
- Demand Media (NYSE:DMD): Up 6% (47 cents) to $8.31. (Read more here)
- Millennial Media (NYSE:MM): Down 37.5% ($5.38) to $8.95. (Read more here)
- Owens Corning (NYSE:OC): Down 7.9% ($3.43) to $39.91.
- Cirrus Logic (NASDAQ:CRUS): Down 7.1% ($1.93) to $25.36.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.