Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s soothing words this morning were all investors needed to send stocks higher … that is, until the Fed’s minutes revealed “a few members” didn’t see eye-to-eye with Ben and were concerned about investors’ long-term expectations.
The markets turned tail. By day’s end, the Nasdaq saw the worst of it, losing 1.11% to close at 3463.30, while the S&P 500 fell 0.83% to 1655.35. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.52% to end at 15307.17.
In corporate news, retailer Saks (SKS) soared more than 13% on a report in the New York Post that it may be looking for a buyer and has hired Goldman Sachs (GS) to review its options.
On the earnings front, Lowe’s (. Competitor Home Depot (HD) also was headed higher a day after its own report of growth and optimistic 2013 guidance.
Homebuilder Toll Brothers (TOL) saw shares rise more than 2% on strong first-quarter results, as well as a report from the National Association of Home Builders that existing home sales ticked upward by 0.6% in April.
Target (TGT) shares dropped more than 4% after reporting a year-over-year decline in first-quarter profits. Adjusted earnings were down 5% over the period, and the retailer also lowered guidance for the remainder of the year.
Staples (SPLS) also missed the mark, reporting a 9% decline in first-quarter profit because of store closings, causing shares to sell off about 2%. The office retailer’s bright spot was an increase in online sales, which rose 5% to $10.6 billion in the quarter.
Solar stocks returned to earth a day after promising reports from Yingli Green Energy (YGE) and JA Solar (JASO), as well as reported solar trade talks between China, the U.S. and eurozone countries. YGE fell nearly 15%, and Trina Solar (TSL, -14.9%), JA Solar (-13.8%) and JinkoSolar (JKS, -9.4%) were among other hard-hit stocks in the sector.
Finally, shares of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) were up more than 11% in after-hours trading after releasing second-quarter earnings of 87 cents per share, which was 6 cents better than the Street’s expectations.
Earnings notables for Thursday include Sears (SHLD), Gap (GPS), Dollar Tree (DLTR) and Salesforce.com (CRM).
- Zale (ZLC): Up 22.2% ($1.20) to $6.60.
- Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH): Up 8.3% ($1.41) to $18.38.
- Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY): Up 5.3% ($2.34) to $46.40.
- Whiting USA Trust I (WHX): Down 15.5% (86 cents) to $4.90.
- Dryships (DRYS): Down 7.1% (16 cents) to $2.09.
- Nii Holdings (NIHD): Down 5.5% (47 cents) to $8.02.
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.