Market Wrap: Dow, S&P 500 Slip on Energy, Walmart; Tech Up

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Financial Markets Wall Street
Richard Drew/AP
By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK -- The Dow and S&P 500 eased Thursday following declines in energy shares and a disappointing outlook from Walmart, while the Nasdaq hit another 15-year high as Priceline shares jumped.

Uncertainty over prospects of a debt deal with Greece added to investor caution. Germany rejected a Greek proposal for a six-month extension to its eurozone loan agreement, saying it fell short of conditions set out by the country's eurozone partners.

A drop in shares of Walmart Stores (WMT) weighed down the Dow after the company cut its sales outlook, citing the stronger dollar. Shares dropped 3.2 percent to $83.52. Walmart also said it would raise entry-level wages to $9 an hour.

Boosting the Nasdaq, which rose for a seventh straight session, Priceline Group (PCLN) shares rallied 8.5 percent to $1,218.05 on its results. The stock also was the S&P 500's largest daily percentage gainer.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-The rally is broadening out, and many more sectors are being included now as strong performers.%The S&P energy index fell 0.8 percent while shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM) dropped 1.7 percent to $89.44 as oil prices slid a second day following another big weekly build in U.S. crude inventories.

The decline in energy prices has eroded the profits of oil companies, and many have cut 2015 spending plans. But S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings overall have been better than expected.

"I think it's likely to stay strong. The rally is broadening out, and many more sectors are being included now as strong performers," said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Bolton Global Asset Management in Boston.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 44.08 points, or 0.24 percent, to 17,985.77, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) lost 2.23 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,097.45 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 18.34 points, or 0.37 percent, to 4,924.70.

Earnings Season

For the whole S&P 500, earnings for the quarter are up 6.5 percent from a year ago, above a Jan. 1 estimate for 4.2 percent growth, Thomson Reuters (TRI) data showed. The S&P 500 index is up 1.9 percent since the start of the year.

S&P utilities, down 1.1 percent, had the biggest decline among sectors, with shares of Scana (SCG) falling 1.9 percent to $58.27 following its results.

The biggest percentage decliner in the S&P 500 was Host Hotels & Resorts (HST), down 7.1 percent at $21.87, after a disappointing forecast.

About 6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 7.1 billion average for the month to date, according to BATS Global Markets.

NYSE declining issues outnumbered advancing ones 1,581 to 1,452, for a 1.09-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,440 issues rose and 1,256 fell, a 1.15-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 66 new 52-week highs and one new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 104 new highs and 22 new lows.

What to watch Friday:

Earnings Calendar
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:
  • Cabot Oil & Gas (COG)
  • Choice Hotels International (CHH)
  • Deere & Co. (DE)
  • EchoStar (SATS)
  • Enbridge (ENB)
  • Laboratory Corp. (LH)
12 PHOTOS
10 Surprising Facts About Retirement Life
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Market Wrap: Dow, S&P 500 Slip on Energy, Walmart; Tech Up
After decades of accumulating enough money to retire, it can be psychologically and emotionally challenging to spend down that money and watch your nest egg get smaller each year. "They are going to feel like they spent a lifetime accumulating this pile, and the idea of spending this down is just repulsive to them," says Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and co-author of "Falling Short: The Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It." "For anyone who is retiring, I would give them permission to spend their money," she says.
Saving enough to retire is not your final goal. You should also develop a plan to make that money last the rest of your life. "You need to understand how you can minimize your risk in the portfolio, but you also need a component of that strategy that gives you growth because you need to stay ahead of inflation and taxes," says Laura Mattia, a certified financial planner and wealth management principal for Baron Financial Group in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
Social Security is a significant source of income for most retirees. Almost all retirees (86 percent) receive income from Social Security, and Social Security payments make up at least half of the retirement income of 65 percent of retirees and comprise 90 percent of retirement income for 36 percent of retirees. "Most seniors do not have much income other than Social Security," says Nancy Altman, co-director of the Strengthen Social Security coalition and co-author of "Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn't Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All." The average monthly retirement benefit was $1,282 in December 2014.
High medical care bills don't go away once you qualify for Medicare. Although Medicare covers a large amount of the medical treatments older people need, there are several popular services that it doesn't. For example, Medicare won't cover routine eye exams, eyeglass, dental care or hearing aids. And Medicare only covers up to 100 days in a nursing home. Retirees who require additional long-term care will need to find another way to pay for it. And while many preventive care services are covered by Medicare with no cost-sharing requirements, if something concerning is found, additional tests and procedures will be considered diagnostic, and copays and coinsurance are likely to apply. "You really need to understand what health benefits you can receive from Medicare and check how it will cover any ongoing health issues," says Christopher Rhim, a certified financial planner for Green View Advisors in Norwich, Vermont.
Without a job to go to every day, you could find yourself spending an increasing amount of time alone. Some 44 percent of Americans ages 65 and older live alone, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Unless you sign up for a volunteer position or make an effort to socialize on a regular basis, you could become bored and lonely.
If you outlive your spouse or divorce, you might find yourself single again in retirement. While just over half (55 percent) of Americans age 65 and older are married, the rest are widowed (28 percent), divorced (12 percent), separated (1 percent) or never married (5 percent), according to census data. Some of these single seniors begin meeting new people and dating. There are a variety of online dating services that cater to people over 50.
As attractive as it sounds to move to the Sunbelt, most retirees don't relocate for retirement. Only 5.7 percent of Americans age 65 and older moved to a new residence between 2009 and 2013, and the people who do move most often relocate to the same state and even the same county, the Census Bureau found. Only 1 percent of retirees moved to a new state, and just 0.3 percent went overseas. Relocating to a new community in retirement often means leaving behind family and a support system that can be difficult to rebuild in a new place.
While the act of aging is an expected part of retirement, the loss of independence typically isn't as welcome. There may come a time when you can't drive, shovel your own walkway or climb on a chair to change a light bulb. You may even eventually need help with meals and bathing. Although the beginning of retirement is often full of fun and adventures, it's also a good time to make contingency plans for later down the road when you might not be able to care for yourself.
Retirees spend over half of their leisure time watching TV. Seniors ages 65 to 74 tune in for 3.92 hours on weekdays, and those 75 and older watch TV for an average of 4.15 hours each day, according to the 2013 American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Compared to the overall population, retirees ages 65 to 74 spend extra time lingering over meals, working on home improvement or garden projects and shopping, the American Time Use Survey found. Retirees also spend more time reading, relaxing and volunteering than younger folks.
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