Updated from 4:05 p.m. EDT
A big quarter at
and relief that the war may be winding down gave stocks a slight boost on Thursday.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
ended up 23.39 points, or 0.3%, at 8221.33, taking some of the bite out of Wednesday's 100-point slide. The
, boosted by the Yahoo! news, gained 8.86 points, or 0.7%, to 1365.60, while the
gained 5.59 points, or 0.7%, to 871.58.
Treasuries were weaker, with the yield on the 10-year note up 3 basis points to 3.92%, but oil sold off on a combination of good war news and speculation that OPEC could have a supply glut on its hands. Crude was down $1.39 cents at $27.49 a barrel in New York.
Despite Iraqi celebrations in the streets at the apparent fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, coalition forces met with resistance Thursday as they tried to secure control of Baghdad. Meanwhile, U.S. troops joined Kurdish forces and pushed into Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in northern Iraq, where the fighting was said to be light.
In economic news, initial jobless claims came in at 405,000 in the latest week, about 20,000 fewer than what economists expected and much lower than the 445,000 claims that came in last week.
Quarterly earnings season kicks into high gear next week, but results are already trickling in. After the bell Wednesday, Yahoo! said it beat Wall Street's second-quarter earnings estimates. The company also raised its guidance for 2003. Yahoo! shares were up 6.1% to $24.27.
In other corporate news,
, maker of the McAfee computer security programs, reported a loss, while
said first-quarter net earnings rose 59% but sales fell short of analysts' estimates. Network Associates was down 19% to $10.80, while Genentech was down 3.9% to $34.99.
said late Wednesday that it sealed a deal to buy a controlling stake in
U.S. satellite TV provider, DirecTV, in a $6.6 billion cash-and-stock deal. Shares in News Corp. was down 6.5% to $25.45, while Hughes was down 9.8% to $10.36.
The deal was especially hard on shares of
. They fell 17.1% to $22.60 after Deutsche Securities downgraded the company to hold from buy, telling investors that the Hughes deal would be dilutive to Fox earnings in 2004 and 2005.
In other media news,
said it will buy out public shareholders of
, an online hotel reservation agency, for about $1.1 billion in stock. USA, which already owns 68% of the outstanding stock of Hotels.com, said the deal will add to its 2003 earnings per share. USA was up 6.3% to $26.69, while Hotels.com was up 19.1% to $63.50.
Retailers were talking about sales for March, with industry bellwether
saying that same-store sales rose 0.7% in March, while April same-store sales will rise by 5% to 7%. Wal-Mart shares rose 1.6% to $54.58.
On an up note,
May Department Stores
all posted same-store sales gains in excess of 6% from the previous March. Of those names, Fred's was the big winner, gaining 7.1% to $31.46.
Abercrombie & Fitch
and department store
had same-store sales stumbles in excess of 10% from last year's levels.
A number of retailers, notably
, were warning that earnings would be slumping, with
Barnes & Noble
all guiding below current consensus estimates. Target gained 3.4% to $31.85, while J.C. Penney was off 4.3% to $18.08.
bucked the trend and said first-quarter earnings would come in at 14 cents a share, two cents better than analysts' expectations, after March same-store sales rose 9.5% on the year. Shares were unchanged at $21.21.
On the earnings front,
reported a fourth-quarter loss of 4 cents a share, while
Pier 1 Imports
reported fourth-quarter earnings of 57 cents a share. Rite Aid was down 1.9% to $2.60, while Pier 1 was up 5.2% to $16.83.
On the healthcare front,
reported third-quarter earnings that missed Wall Street estimates, while guiding 2003 guidance well below current expectations due to a rule change to Medicare outlier payments. Rival
was downgraded to neutral from buy at Banc of America, which said that Medicare outlier payments could fall by 30%. Tenet shares gained 0.3% to $15.10, while HCA dropped 5.7% to $35.52.
shares fell 32.2% to $40.25, after the company announced fourth-quarter earnings that met Wall Street expectations but warned that first-quarter and full-year 2004 earnings would miss estimates.
said that first-quarter earnings would be down 30% year-over-year. Shares fell 2.1% to $27.27, as a result.
Oil service stocks got a boost after Prudential Securities raised its view of the sector to market outperform from market underperform, saying that commodity prices have returned to Earth and that low natural gas inventories could drive demand. The Philly oil service index rose 3.3%, led higher by
, up 4.7% to $20.61.
fell 6.9% to $31.59 after RBC Capital downgraded the company to sector perform from sector outperform, while cutting its price target to $38 from $45.
Stocks were weak overseas, with London's FTSE closing down 1.5% at 3803 and Germany's Xetra DAX off 1.4% at 2697. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei lost 1% to end at 7980, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.1% to close at 8625.
On Wednesday, the Dow ended down 100 points, or 1.2%, at 8197. The S&P 500 lost 12 points, or 1.4%, to 865, while the Nasdaq dropped 26 points, or 1.9%, to 1356.