Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 posted their first monthly losses since March 2017.
  • The Dow recorded its first losing February since 2009.
  • The Dow remains more than 1,500 points below its all-time high reached on Jan. 26, 2018.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks sunk on Wednesday, Feb. 28, as global investors parsed potentially hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and fourth-quarter GDP met expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 380 points, or 1.5%. The S&P 500 was down 1.11% and the Nasdaq declined 0.78%.

Powell's maiden Humphrey-Hawkins testimony on Tuesday, Feb. 27, before the House Financial Services Committee, went largely to script, with the newly appointed Fed chief rarely deviating from his prepared remarks as he fielded questions on the economy, interest rates and financial regulation. But Powell may have hinted at more rate hikes in 2018 than initially anticipated.

"At the December meeting, the median [FOMC] participant called for three rate increases in 2018. Now since then -- and we will submit another projection, all of us, in three weeks -- but what we've seen is incoming data that suggests a strengthening in the economy," Powell said Tuesday in his testimony.

Stocks finished lower on Tuesday, following Powell's remarks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 299 points, or 1.16%. The S&P 500 slipped 1.27% and the Nasdaq fell 1.23%. 

Fourth-quarter gross domestic product was revised to up 2.5%, matching expectations, from a prior reading of 2.6%.

In other economic data, pending-home sales in January fell 4.7% to 104.6, the lowest reading since October 2014.

Oil prices fell 1.1% to $62.29 a barrel after the Energy Information Administration said crude oil inventories rose 3 million barrels last week, higher than forecasts.

Lowe's Cos. (LOW) reported adjusted earnings for the fiscal fourth quarter of 74 cents a share, well off Wall Street estimates of 87 cents. Revenue of $15.5 billion, however, beat forecasts, as did a  same-store gain of 4% in the quarter. The stock fell 6%.

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)  purchased Ring, a company that appeared as a contestant in 2013 on CNBC's "Shark Tank" as DoorBot but left without a deal. Multiple reports pegged the value at more than $1 billion. 

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Shares of Weight Watchers International Inc. ( WTW)   declined 3% even after the New York-based weight loss and healthy living company reported earnings that handily beat estimates.

Papa John's International Inc. (PZZA)  rose 2.4% after getting clobbered Tuesday following news that fourth-quarter North American same-store sales at the pizza chain dived 3.9%. In addition, the company said it would be the official pizza sponsor of the NFL.

Digital payments company Square Inc. ( SQ)   beat earnings estimates for the fourth quarter of 2017 and the stock rose 0.26% on Wednesday. 

The company guided for adjusted earnings per share of 3 cents to 5 cents in the first quarter of 2018; analysts expect 8 cents. Square also estimated revenue in 2018 of $1.3 billion to $1.33 billion in 2018. In 2017, revenue was $984 million.

Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. (DKS)  said effective Wednesday, it will no longer sell assault-style rifles in its 853 stores and online. Dick's, which is one of the largest sports retailers in the country, will also halt sales of high-capacity magazines and won't sell guns to anyone under the age of 21, regardless of local law. Shares rose 0.7%.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (VRX)  fell 11% after fourth-quarter revenue came in below Wall Street estimates and the company issued below-consensus revenue guidance for 2018.

TJX Cos. (TJX) rose 6% after the retailer reported fourth-quarter sales that topped analysts' estimates, said it was boosting its quarterly dividend, and announced it planned to repurchase $2.5 billion to $3 billion of stock during the fiscal year ending in February 2019.

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