Stocks saw their worst day of the year by far on Monday; all three major indices dropped more than 1 percent as Europe worries -- in the form of the Italian elections -- found their way to the states once again. The S&P 500 dipped below 1,500 and the Dow sank more than 200 points after hitting a new multi-year high during intraday trade. All key S&P sectors were down for the day, with financials and energy getting hit the hardest. The VIX, the "fear gauge" for the market, climbed 34% to near 19 as stocks tumbled.
Investors are also looking toward Friday's sequester deadline, when $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts will begin to take place unless Congress can come to a deal first.
Here is a follow-up on some of the individual stocks we were looking at before market open on Monday:
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble (BKS) skyrocketed 11% Monday on news there may be a new chapter for the storied bookseller. Chairman Leonard Riggio wants to buy the company's retail business; in papers filed this morning, Riggio says he wants to acquire BN's stores and website, but not the division that makes the Nook e-reader. No price was disclosed. Barnes and Noble has not risen along with the recent tide in the broader market. The company will report earnings on Thursday.
Monday was nothing short of a bloodletting for drug maker Affymax (AFFY). The stock was down 75% in premarket trading and only fell further from there, closing down 85%. Affymax is recalling Omontys, a drug to treat anemia in patients with kidney disease. The medication was causing severe allergic reactions and has been linked to at least five deaths. The drop in the stock's price wiped out half a billion dollars in the company's market value.
BP (BP PLC) won't settle for less. The oil giant chose to stand trial rather than take an agreement from five states and the Feds in a civil case stemming from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill -- but a deal could still happen and some reports say the talks are intensifying. Prosecutors spent the weekend bargaining with company reps; the latest offer involves a $16-billon payout. The trial got underway Monday and the stock closed down 3%.
Home improvement chain Lowe's (LOW) came out with quarterly earnings this morning. The company made 26-cents per share, beating estimates by 3-cents. Much of the revenue was a result of Hurricane Sandy. Lowe's has seen its stock price climb since the summer; its price to earnings ratio is now above 22. Despite beating on the top and bottom lines, Lowe's had a disappointing guidance and its stock ended down 4% for the day.
Car rental company Hertz (HTZ) also reported earnings Monday morning. Hertz stock has been climbing of late. In fact, it hit a 52-week high in trading after Friday's closing bell. This has been a transition time for Hertz, which bought competitor Dollar Thrifty back in November. The company reported a $2.6 billion loss with that acquisition; that comes out to 9-cents a share. The stock closed up above 1% Monday.
Casino operator Caesars Entertainment Group (CZR) reports earnings Monday as well. Shares were up more than 5 1/2% in morning trading. The stock has really popped in the last month, up around 42%; it also jumped on Friday when Nevada legalized online gambling. New Jersey is expected to do the same later this week.
GM (GM) is cruising ahead of its competitors on the information superhighway. The automaker is announcing that it's equipping 2014 models with 4G internet access through the center console and backseat. The connection would be up to 10 times faster than what's available in other cars. So far GM stock has not fared well this year, down about 10%. Monday it closed down close to 3%.