March 21, 2014: Markets opened higher on Friday but the Nasdaq sank quickly, bounced for a while, and finally settled solidly lower. It took the Dow and the S&P 500 until noon to really turn south. Today marked a quadruple witching options expiration day and volatility usually comes with that. Another contributing factor was likely profit-taking. In the final minutes of trading the DJIA was down 0.18%, the S&P 500 was down 0.42%, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.14%.
Before we get to the stocks that weighed on the markets, we should note that Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) traded up about 0.77% today, and the stock’s high price helped keep the price-weighted Dow from sinking further.
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Today’s big loser among the DJIA stocks was Nike Inc. (NKE) which fell 5.12% to trade at $75.22 in a 52-week range of $57.87 to $80.26 just ahead of the closing bell. Volume was on track to be nearly 4-times higher than the daily average of some 3.6 million shares traded. The company reported good quarterly results Thursday night, but the outlook for the next fiscal year was a little soft.
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The Boeing Co. (BA) suffered a downgrade from Buy to Neutral at Goldman Sachs. Shares slipped 0.95% to $122.57 in a 52-week range of $83.80 to $144.57. Share volume was roughly equal to the daily average of around 5.3 million shares traded.
Drugmaker Merck & Co. (MRK) traded down 1.44%, at $54.79. The stock’s 52-week range is $43.51 to $57.65. Volume was about 10% above the average daily volume of around 12 million shares traded.
Another drugmaker, Pfizer Inc. (PFE) also weighed on the DJIA today. Shares traded down 1.03% at around $31.58. Biotech and pharmaceuticals stocks had a particularly rough ride today. Volume on Pfizer’s shares was about 10% higher than the daily average of around around 25 million shares traded.
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International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) traded down 0.65% today at $186.76. IBM was caught up in the sell-off of tech stocks that pummeled the Nasdaq today. Trading volume for IBM’s shares was about 25% higher than the daily average of around 5 million shares traded.
And the big downdraft on the Nasdaq was blown up by Symantec Corp. (SYMC). The stock traded down 13.73% today at $18.04 in a 52-week range of $17.95 to $17.10 (the low was set today). The company fired its CEO, raising more questions about Symantec’s planned turnaround. Trading volume reached 7-times the daily average of around 7.5 million shares traded.
Of the Dow 30 stocks 16 are set to close lower today and 14 are on their way to a higher close.