Economic news kicked off the day on a strong note, as an ADP report showed the private sector added 200,000 jobs in July, while the government released an estimate of second-quarter GDP growth rising 1.7%, well ahead of the first quarter’s 1.1% gain.
Both economic reports beat estimates, and the markets gained broadly, but the broader indices gave up most of their gains late in the session as the Federal Reserve downgraded its economic outlook to “modest” from “moderate,” and said it would keep its inflation and employment targets for bond tapering in place while buying $85 billion in securities on a monthly basis.
Only the Nasdaq, which closed up 0.27% at 3626.37, finished the day higher. The S&P 500 slipped fractionally to close at 1685.73, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.14% to close at 15499.54.
Facebook (FB) took center stage early, as it marched ahead up and over its $38 per share IPO price in early trading before fading as investors sold off the stock in the afternoon. Facebook finished down more than 2%.
Hedge fund managers played a big role on the day. For one, Herbalife (HLF) rose more than 9% on reports that George Soros bought up shares in the stock, this on the heels of Monday’s rally on strong earnings. HLF is up more than 10% since Monday’s open. At the same time, shares of Air Products & Chemicals (APD) rose just under 3% on the day after disclosing Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square bought a nearly 10% stake in the company.
On the earnings front, SodaStream (SODA) rose more than 12% after announcing 55% revenue growth in the Americas, and 26% growth in Europe, and lifted both revenue and EBITDA guidance for the remainder of 2013.
Comcast (CMCSA) also got a boost on earnings, rising more than 5% after announcing that second-quarter profits rose more than 29% year-over-year, with March’s buyout of General Electric’s (GE) NBC Universal unit accretive to CMCSA’s bottom line.
MasterCard (MA) shares climbed 2% to more than $600 per share after earnings came in 21% better than the year-ago period on consumer card spending that improved 11%. Visa (V) went in the opposite direction, however, plunging 7% as a federal judge’s ruling on swipe fees, which also could effect MA, opened a possible door to lowering those fees. American Express (AXP) also fell on the swipe card ruling, losing over 2%.
Earnings notables for Thursday include ConocoPhillips (COP), Kellogg (K) and Procter & Gamble (PG).
- Questcor Pharmaceutical (QCOR): Up 28.7% ($14.91) to $66.82.
- Green Dot (GDOT): Up 15.8% ($3.17) to $23.28.
- Molycorp (MCP): Up 5.8% (41 cents) to $7.46.
- Big 5 Sporting Goods (BGFV): Down 16.8% ($4.09) to $20.27.
- Riverbed Technology (RVBD): Down 10.8% ($1.89) to $15.64.
- Potash Corp. (POT): Down 8.3% ($2.63) to $29.
Marc Bastow is an Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he was long GE.