Stocks sold off for the second consecutive day. Today's catalysts were the ADP private sector employment report, which was a bit light, and a continued reaction to the news there isn't likely to be a third round of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. Europe also reared its head again as a concern as Spain's bond auction was tepidly received. Whether this two-day drop is a momentary blip or a change in sentiment that will usher in the spring-summer pullback we are expecting isn't clear yet, but we would approach stocks more carefully in the short term.
The Wind Energy Stocks Index was the top performing tickerspy Index on the day, led by Cleantech Solutions (Nasdaq: CLNT - News) with a 158% gain. The South Africa Stocks and ADRs Index was the day's worst performing tickerspy Index, with Gold Fields (NYSE: GFI - News) down -6%.
Stocks fell for a second straight day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed -125 points to end at 13,075, the S&P 500 was off by -14 points to 1,399, while the Nasdaq dropped -45 points to finish at 3,068. Crude oil also fell by -$2.54 per barrel to $101.47 and gold plunged -$57.90 to $1,614.10 per ounce.
In economic news, the ADP private sector payroll report showed employers added 209,000 jobs in March, down from a revised 230,000 jobs in February. Analysts expected the March ADP number to show the addition of 217,000 new jobs.
In earnings news, shares of Acuity Brands (NYSE: AYI - News) slid -9.7% after the company said its fiscal second-quarter profit fell to $19.5 million, or 46 cents per share, from $19.9 million, or 45 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue climbed 10% to $457.7 million. On an adjusted basis, Acuity earned 57 cents. Analysts expected a profit of 62 cents on revenue of $455.8 million.
Agribusiness giant Monsanto (NYSE: MON - News) said its fiscal second-quarter EPS rose to $2.24 from $1.88 a year earlier. EPS from continuing operations climbed to $2.28 a share from $1.87, topping the $2.12 analysts expected. Corn sales rose to $2.8 billion to $2.4 billion. Monsanto raised its full-year ongoing EPS guidance to $3.49-$3.54 a share and its free cash flow guidance to $1.6-$1.8 billion. Shares of Monsanto fell -1.5%. More than 40 pros held Monsanto in their portfolios at the end of Q4 and more than 1,500 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
Shares of SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK - News) plunged -11.1% after the company said slack demand from mobile phone makers is crimping its margins and revenue. SanDisk forecast first-quarter revenue of $1.2 billion, well below its previous forecast of $1.3-$1.35 billion and the $1.34 billion analysts were expecting.
Pharmaceuticals giant Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT - News) said its experimental hepatitis C treatment cured almost half of patients who couldn't eliminate the virus with therapies now on the market, Bloomberg reported, citing a study funded by the company. The results indicate Abbott may have a robust avenue for tapping into the highly lucrative hepatitis C market. Shares of Abbott rose 0.5%. Nearly 340 pros held Abbott in their portfolios at the end of Q4 and more than 1,400 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.
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