Three cheers (or jeers) for logical investing. When Wednesday's positive earnings surprises and solid economic news prompted stocks to tilt slightly negative, the logical conclusion was that outright bad news after hours would do even more damage on Thursday. And so it was. eBay's ( EBAY) less-than-expected first-quarter guidance and Qualcomm's ( QCOM) lowered guidance hit technology stocks hard as eBay tumbled 19% and Qualcomm lost 8%. The Nasdaq Composite dropped to a new low for the year, down 1.3% to 2045.88. Ominously, the index closed at its intraday low, and breadth was negative by more than 2 to 1. No sign of an end to 2005's ugliness yet. Other lackluster reports from the likes of Citigroup ( C) and fund favorite International Game Technology ( IGT) pulled down the rest of the market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost 69 points, or 0.7%, to 10,471.47 after earlier setting a new 2005 low of 10,457.94. The S&P 500 lost 0.8% to 1175.41 and -- no surprise -- earlier made a new 2005 low of 1173.39. Numerous retail and housing stocks also got slammed. Homebuilder D.R. Horton ( DHI) reported a 30% increase in profits, but the gain in home closings slowed to 5%. Revenue guidance for 2005 was below some bullish forecasts. The stock lost 4.3%, and is now down 2.7% for the year. The Philadelphia Stock Exchange's housing index lost 2.1% and is now down 1.4% in 2005. It was up 28% last year. Merrill Lynch's Retail HOLDRs fund lost 0.7%, as Wal-Mart ( WMT) fell 0.8%, Federated ( FD) dropped 3.1% and Saks ( SKS) was down 1.6%. May Department Stores ( MAY), the subject of a possible bid from Federated, was an exception, gaining 9.2%. Bank stocks continued to show divergent returns, as companies with sharper managements and balance sheets prepared for higher rates prospered. As mentioned
here , some banks are suffering a lot more than others as rates creep up (and the yield curve flattens). Citigroup reported results a penny above the average analyst estimate for the fourth quarter but added some pretty bearish guidance.
"I'm more comfortable with the bottom end of analysts' estimates than the top end," Chief Financial Officer Sallie Krawcheck said on Citi's conference call, adding that the bank would cease giving short-term guidance on quarterly profits. She blamed rising rates, a higher tax rate and the unlikelihood that further reductions would be coming in reserves for bad loans. A 10% hike in the dividend limited the damage, and Citi's shares ended down 0.6%. Wednesday's wrong-way bank, J.P. Morgan Chase ( JPM), was down another 1.6%. Bank of America ( BAC), up 0.8%, and Wachovia ( WB), which rose 0.3%, proved to be better positioned for higher rates and is doing a better job integrating respective acquisitions.