Hewlett-Packard and AT&T were among the stocks moving substantially or trading heavily Feb. 20 on the New York Stock Exchange, while Crocs and 3Com were doing the same on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
On the NYSE, H-P was up $3.49 at $47.44 a share. The computer and printer company offered a strong 2008 profit outlook, after robust computer sales lifted fiscal first-quarter profit 38 percent. AT&T was down $1.53 at $34.36 after Credit Suisse downgraded the telecom company, saying the industry faces greater wireless competition and a weak U.S. economy.
Meanwhile, Suntech Power Holdings was down $5.65 at $40.24 as bad weather in China prompted the solar cell maker to forecast fiscal first-quarter sales below Wall Street expectations.
On the NASDAQ, Crocs was down $4.64 at $27.44. Fourth-quarter profit jumped 84 percent, but the colorful plastic shoe company also forecast 2008 profit and sales below analyst estimates. 3Com was down 86 cents at $2.87. The network equipment maker withdrew its $2.2 billion, or $5.30 per share, buyout application from federal authorities, after failing to agree on terms.
NutriSystem was also down $7.31 at $16.58. An analyst downgraded shares of the weight loss company, following its outlook of first-quarter and full-year 2008 sales below expectations. A week after naming a new chief executive, the electronics and specialty gifts retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Stocks fell as the latest round of economic data intensified investors' fears that the U.S. economy is falling into a recession. Early Feb. 21, investors were looking for data that would be upbeat enough to stave off a sharp economic slowdown, but not get in the way of further interest rate cuts. They were disappointed when a report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showed manufacturing fell more than forecast.
Meanwhile, the Conference Board's gauge of leading economic indicators for January, used to predict which direction the economy is headed, posted its fourth straight drop. Traders are already pricing in another interest rate cut _ perhaps by up to half a percentage point _ after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's last policy-setting meeting indicated central bankers will remain vigilant about the economy.
Still, the market is concerned that the economy could be weak enough that rate cuts, which take months to work their way through the economy, won't stop further weakening. The Fed, which meets again March 18, forecast was for slower growth and continued risks to the economy from housing and credit markets.
''What you're seeing is a tug of war out there,'' said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jefferies & Co. ''There are those that believe we're in a recession and earnings will move lower, and others that feel we're working on a bottom. That can change the direction of stocks minute-by-minute.''
In late morning trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 34.36, or 0.28 percent, to 12,392.90. Broader indexes were mixed. The Standard & Poor's 500 index shed 4.20, or 0.31 percent, to 1,355.83, while the Nasdaq composite rose 2.23, or 0.10 percent, to 2,329.33. Bond prices moved sharply higher on expectations of a cut in interest rates. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.79 percent from 3.89 percent late Feb. 20.
Source: Associated Press