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The Final Hour: Russia Rallies, Yellen Warns on Housing

NEW YORK (TheStreet) --  Good but not great. 

That's the assessment from Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who gave an otherwise upbeat assessment of the economic outlook. "Readings on housing activity -- a sector that has been recovering since 2011 -- have remained disappointing so far this year and will bear watching," she warned.

Here are nine more points to take away from today's trading action so far.

  • More blood in the water for Internet and "new tech" stocks: Groupon (GRPN) was diving nearly 20%, Twitter  (TWTR) was shedding nearly 6% and AOL (AOL) was 23.53% lower after reporting earnings that missed estimates after higher advertising spending.
  • ...and a new rival could make life tougher: Yahoo!  (YHOO) was declining nearly 6% after Chinese Internet group Alibaba filed plans for its IPO on Tuesday. The company has a 24% stake in Alibaba -- a Chinese e-commerce group that has been valued as high as $250 billion.
  • A brighter outlook for energy stocks: two of the biggest U.S. shale gas and oil producers, Chesapeake Energy  (CHK) and Devon Energy (DVN), posted profit jumps due to higher North American gas prices. Their shares were rising 3.77% and 4.66% in afternoon trade.
  • Russia rumbles: Russian stocks jumped after President Vladimir Putin moderated his position on the Ukraine conflict. Moscow's MICEX stock index was 3.4% higher late in the session. Putin call on pro-Russian separatists in southeastern Ukraine to delay a vote on independence slated for this weekend.
  • The M&A flurry continues: Two of the world's largest coffee makers Mondelez International  (MDLZ) and DE Master Blenders 1753 agreed a deal to create a caffeinated drink company with sales of more than $7 billon. Mondelez will receive $5 billion in cash and a 49% stake in the new company, making the new group a stronger rival to market leader Nestle.
  • Banks are back in the black: Financial shares are recovering after two days of sharp falls. JP Morgan (JPM), Goldman Sachs (GS), Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC) were rising in afternoon trade. But the sector has yet to show leadership needed for the market to move higher, traders say.
  • Small caps sink: the Russell 2000 was lower for a third day, falling to its lowest level since early February amid valuation concerns after its strong run in 2013.
  • Safe havens slumped: Gold is 1.6% lower for its biggest one-day fall in nearly a month after Putin's comments calmed investors.
  • Market share eaten: Whole Food  (WFM) shares were slumping after a poor earnings report. The company said late Tuesday that fiscal second-quarter earnings were flat from a year earlier at $142 million. "For a long time Whole Foods had the field to ourselves," Co-CEO John Mackey said on a conference call. "That was nice, but we don't anymore."
-- By Jane Searle in New York

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