Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended lower Thursday after U.S. economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter.
  • J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and said it expects to be free-cash-flow positive in the coming year. The stock jumped 23.4%.
  • Square (SQ - Get Report)  rose 2.5% Thursday after the digital payments company posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter results but issued a disappointing outlook. 

Wall Street Overview

Stocks ended lower on Thursday, Feb. 28, after Donald Trump said he was unable to reach a denuclearization deal with North Korea and U.S. economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter.

Trump told reporters in Hanoi that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had pushed for a complete end to U.S. sanctions on Pyongyang, but wouldn't agree to levels of nuclear verification that would warrant such a move from the United States.

"It was about the sanctions basically," Trump said from Hanoi, Vietnam, where the Trump-Kim summit took place. "They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn't do that ... Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times."

The U.S. economy slowed to a 2.6% annual growth rate in the fourth quarter, as the stimulus faded from Trump's late-2017 tax cuts and consumers reined in spending amid nagging uncertainty over the president's policies, from the trade war with China to the longest-ever government shutdown.

But the growth rate, published by the Commerce Department on Thursday, was surprisingly high, exceeding economists' average projection for 2.5% growth in gross domestic product based on a survey by the data provider FactSet. The economy had expanded at a 3.4% pace in the third quarter.

The latest figure reflected slowdowns in private inventory investment, consumer spending and federal government spending, along with a decline in state and local government spending, according to the Commerce Department. On the bright side, the report showed an acceleration in so-called nonresidential fixed investment -- a key barometer of business executives' confidence in future profits.

Comments from National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow about the progress in trade talks with China gave the stock market a lift earlier in the session. Kudlow told CNBC on Thursday that trade talks between the U.S. and China were making "fantastic" progress.

"Last week was fantastic," Kudlow said. "We're making great headway on non-tariff barriers and tariffs regarding various commodities such as soybeans and energy and beef. We have mechanisms with regard to enforcement, which is - I think - unparalleled."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 69 points, or 0.27%, to 25,916, the S&P 500 was down 0.28%, and the Nasdaq lost 0.29%.

J.C. Penney (JCP - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and said it expects to be free-cash-flow positive in the coming year. The stock jumped 23.4%.

The retailer said earnings for the three months ended Feb. 2, were 18 cents a share, 7 cents ahead of Wall Street forecasts. Sales were $3.67 billion,just shy of the $3.78 billion. J.C. Penney also said same-store sales declined down 4%, a figure that was narrower than analysts' estimates of a 4.3% decline.

Square (SQ - Get Report)   ended up 2.5% Thursday after trading lower for most of the session after the digital payments company posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter results but issued a disappointing outlook.

Square, led by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, reported a loss of 7 cents a share in the period on adjusted revenue of $464 million. Adjusted earnings in the period were 14 cents a share, 1 cent ahead of estimates. Subscription- and services-based revenue in the quarter was $194 million, an increase of 144% from a year earlier.

The company said it expects first-quarter adjusted revenue of $472 to $482 million vs. analysts' estimates of $474 million. Square said it expects adjusted earnings of 6 cents to 8 cents a share, below Wall Street forecasts of 12 cents.

HP Inc. (HPQ - Get Report) slumped 17.3% Thursday after the printer and computer maker reported first-quarter 2019 sales shy of analysts' forecasts. Adjusted per-share earnings came in as expected.

PG&E Corp. (PCG - Get Report) said Thursday it took at $10.5 billion charge linked to last year's deadly California wildfires and cautioned that there was "substantial doubt" over the utility's prospects as a going concern. Shares fell 4.3%.

Fitbit (FIT - Get Report) slumped 13.83% Thursday after the wearable devices maker delivered weak guidance for the first quarter.

Fitbit said it expects an adjusted loss in the first quarter of 22 cents to 24 cents a share on revenue of $250 million to $268 million. Analysts were calling for a loss of 15 cents a share on revenue of $272 million. For the full year, Fitbit said it expects revenue of $1.52 billion to $1.58 billion vs. estimates of $1.57 billion.

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