Stocks managed to end a shortened trading day in the green despite worrisome news overseas and a mixed bag of economic data. Unrest in Egypt and political instability in Portugal seemed to be outweighed by employment data here at home. The ADP payroll report for June showed 188,000 non-farm private sector jobs created for the month when consensus was for about 165,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department says there were 343,000 new jobless claims last week, about in line with expectations. Less encouraging were the newest numbers on the U.S. trade deficit, which widened to $45.03 billion in May up from $40.15 billion in April. Separately, ISM non-manufacturing index came in at 52.2, its weakest level since the start of 2010.
International Speedway (ISCA) was among the day's winners with shares climbing 5% on the release of quarterly earnings. The company says it made 48-cents a share, or 51 cents excluding items, when expectations were for 50 cents. Revenue also came in lower than expected at $178.4 million, when estimates were for $182.30 million. However, net income rose 64% from a year ago when the company took a hit on early debt redemption. International Speedway owns or operates 13 major motorsports tracks including the Daytona Speedway, which is about to undergo a renovation starting Friday.
Bassett (BSET) furniture dropped more than 2% Friday as traders awaited quarterly earnings that were originally supposed to be released ahead of the opening bell. Bassett was expected to post profits of 18 cents a share, twice the amount in the last quarter, when sales were just shy of $80 million. Bassett has been enjoying a jump in sales this year; in Q1 it saw revenue rise 31% over the prior year. Still, on Monday the stock was downgraded from sell to hold by analysts and Thomson Reuters/Verus. Bassett stock is up is 53% over the past year in what has been a pretty steady climb.
Mead Johnson Nutrition (MJN) dropped another 9% today. That was on top of a 5.7% loss yesterday. Mead Johnson is one of several makers of infant formula now being investigated by China for price-fixing. Other companies implicated include Nestle, Danone, Abbott Labs (ABT) and Wyeth, but none of their stocks took as big of a hit. Imported formula is in high demand in China as a result of a scandal in 2008 when six children were killed by tainted product made domestically. Mead denies the accusations.
Chipotle (CMG) climbed more than 3% today, perhaps because of the increased attention it's getting since Noodles and Company (NDLS) went public last Friday. The newer company has been on a tear, up another 4% today after climbing 22% yesterday. Its CEO Kevin Reddy originally came from Chipotle, so there have been plenty of comparisons in recent days. The burrito chain has also been upgraded to buy from hold at Argus.