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Stocks Plunge After Budget Battle, Fed Taper Talk; BlackBerry Tanks in Late Trade

Hot Stock Minute

Stocks sank on Friday after the budget battle in Washington heated up and uncertainty re quantitative easing returned.

There was also big — and very bad — news from BlackBerry (BBRY) late in the trading day as shares were halted ahead of an announcement that its fiscal 2Q results will come in much lower (close to 50%) than Wall Street expectations. The company will also lay off around 40% of its workforce in a restructuring effort. Shares ended down 17% after they resumed trading.

Earlier Friday the House of Representatives passed a budget bill to keep the government running through December, but would eliminate funding for Obamacare. Investors were also weighing renewed talk of a Fed taper. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the central bank could in fact begin to start scaling back its asset purchase program next month. It was just two days ago that Fed Chair Ben Bernanke painted a picture of an economy not strong enough for a reduction in stimulus efforts. A number of other central bank officials are slated to make speeches in the coming days.

Poll: What would you think of a third term for Ben Bernanke?

Darden Restaurants (DRI) dropped 6% on an earnings and revenue miss. The restaurant group made 53-cents a share when expectations were for 70-cents. Sales were also slightly lower than the consensus coming in at $2.16 billion versus $2.2 billion. Earnings were actually down 37% from a year ago though revenues rose slightly. Moving forward, Darden plans to save about $50 million a year by cutting 80 to 85 positions which are not at the restaurant level. Prior to this morning, shares of Darden were up 9% year-to-date.

Uniform-seller Cintas (CTAS) was up more than 3% ahead of the bell, but ran out of steam to close flat for the day. The company missed earnings estimates but raised its outlook when it reported quarterly results yesterday afternoon. Cintas says it made 63-cents a share,a nickel less than expected. It matched on revenues which were $1.12 billion. Shares of Cintas are up 27% year-to-date and sitting at their highest level in about a decade.

Apple (AAPL) shares dropped fractionally on what appeared to be robust sales for its latest iPhones. Lines were long at stores around the world as the 5S and 5C devices made their official debut. Shares were also up yesterday, climbing 1.25%. It’s also worth mentioning that Carl Icahn called apple "very undervalued" in an interview yesterday. Icahn has been accumulating shares of the company.

Tesla (TSLA) rose over 2%, topping $180 a share today for the first time. The climb follows a 7% gain yesterday when Deutchse Bank upped its price target on Tesla to $200. Already the stock is up more than 400% this year.

Facebook (FB) opened above $46 a share today for the first time since it went public. Shares moved higher after Cowen analysts upgraded the stock to outperform from market perform. They also raised the stock's price target to $53 from its prior price target of $29.

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