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Stocks ignore positive signs on the economy

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The U.S. economy grew at a 2.6% annual rate in the fourth quarter, slightly faster than the government’s previous estimate of 2.4% and slightly below analysts’ estimates of 2.7%. Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of U.S. goods and services produced, fell from 4.1% growth in the third quarter of 2013. One bright spot in the latest report showed that consumers spent more than previously estimated. Consumer spending in the fourth quarter rose 3.3%, up from 2% in the third quarter.

The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since November. Initial jobless claims fell 10,000 in the latest week to 311,000. Economists expected the number of first-time claims to rise to 325,000.

The markets were uninspired by the reports. The Dow (^DJI) ended the day flat at 16,264. The Nasdaq (^IXIC) finished half a percent lower at 4,151 and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) closed the session down marginally to 1,849.

In corporate news, music-streaming company Spotify could go public as soon as the third quarter of this year, according to a Quartz report. The report says Spotify has held informal talks with investment banks that could potentially be involved in an initial public offering. Spotify reportedly could begin holding formal talks about an IPO as soon as next month.

And Sears (SHLD) is launching a new fast-fashion line called Now + Here. The aim of the new brand will be to bring new fashion trends from concept to store shelves much more quickly than the usual process. The company said Now + Here will launch online and in stores the second week of April.

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