As the Dow closed Tuesday on its first three-day losing streak since late September, investors are wondering: Has the bull market peaked or is it just taking a breather after setting a series of record highs?
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) tumbled 94 points Tuesday, but closed well off session lows. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 6 points, and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) fell 8.
Among the blue chips, DuPont (DD) was the big loser, dropping 2 percent. Disney (DIS), Pfizer (PFE) and Visa (V) all lost more than 1 percent. And 3M (MMM) lost another percent after tumbling 5 percent on Monday.
Ford (F) lost 3 percent and GM (GM) fell 2.5 percent despite strong November sales figures. Industry-wide, sales rose to an annual rate of 16.4 million, their highest level since early 2007.
But Tesla (TSLA) rallied 16 percent after Morgan Stanley called it a "top pick." Tesla shares have soared more than 300 percent over the past year.
Biotech stocks, which have had big gains for the year, had a rough day.
Regeneron (REGN) lost 3 percent. Gilead (GILD), Biogen (BIIB) and Amgen (AMGN) all lost ground. And Lexicon (LXRX) slid 5 percent on disappointing test results for its drug to treat irritable bowel syndrome.
And the day's big loser was Krispy Kreme (KKD). Shares of the doughnut maker tumbled 20 percent after the company issued a disappointing outlook.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Yum Brands (YUM) -- another food company not on the American Heart Association recommended list -- fell nearly 3 percent. Its sales in China last month were little changed. China has become the largest market for the company, which owns KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Yum holds its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
There weren't many winners, but we can point to a couple of good ones.
Apple (AAPL) gained nearly 3 percent. UBS raised its rating to 'buy' from 'neutral' and set a 650 dollar price target for the stock. It moved above 560 a share on Tuesday.
And Abercrombie & Fitch (F) gained 6 percent. An activist investor is pushing the company to dump its controversial CEO.
What to Watch Wednesday:
The Commerce Department releases international trade data for October at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
At 10 a.m., the Commerce Department releases new home sales for September and October, and the Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for November.
The Federal Reserve releases the Beige Book, its anecdotal snapshot of business conditions around the nation, covering October through mid-November at 2 p.m.
These major companies are due to report quarterly corporate earnings:
After Market: That's 3 Down Days in a Row. Is the Bull Tuckered Out?
There's a sale at Penney's!
Yes, the deals are back with a vengeance at J.C. Penney (JCP) after the "fair and square pricing" experiment turned into a debacle. In August alone, there were more than 20 sales and coupons. Some of these were specific to product lines, but there were plenty of across-the-board sales, including a 20 percent-off online sale, a $10-off-$25 apparel coupon, and a 25 percent off sale that was good in-stores and online. In fact, more than half the days in August saw some kind of universal sale at the retailer. And even when there wasn't a big sale or coupon, there were also a number of department-specific sales, including a sale offering 40 percent to 50 percent off in the bedding, bath, window and luggage departments.
Express (EXPR) is a big fan of sales of the "$25 off $75, $50 off $150" variety, and which apply to the vast majority of merchandise in stores or online. Over the period we examined, you were never more than a few days away from a sale on all or most of the merchandise sold by Express. There were also sales that took took an extra discount off clearance items.
Bottom line: If Express isn't having a sale, you should probably just check back later that week.
Dealnews confirmed what my inbox already told me: Banana Republic has a lot of sales, and they're usually very good. In July, for instance, it had five sales that all offered between 30 percent and 40 percent off.
Yes, sometime there's a lull of a week or so, but the magnitude of the discounts means it's almost always worth the wait. Sure, if you urgently need a new shirt for a job interview, you might have no choice. But if it's not a clothing emergency, why spend $100 when you can wait a few days and spend $60?
The Gap is owned by the same company as Banana Republic, and it shares its enthusiasm for sales: Over a two-month period, it had nine sales that applied to all or most regularly priced items, so you're rarely more than a week away from a sale there. Discounts tended to fall in the 30 percent to 40 percent off range.
And what of Old Navy? The third of the Gap brands is also the cheapest, and that's probably why it's less keen on having big sales that take 40 percent off everything in the store. There were a few sales in the 20 to 30 percent-off range, but in general, the sales we saw were of the "up to 40 percent off activewear" variety. You can wait around to see if something you want goes on sale, but otherwise you might as well just take advantage of the already-low prices here.
It's not news that Macy's (M) holds a lot of sales. Take June, for instance: The retailer had five different sales or coupons that offered a discount on most items.
But a couple of caveats are in order. One is that the sales are relatively modest in value -- we found a couple of coupons offering $10 off $25, or 25 percent-off $100 or more, but for the most part, you're looking at sales in the 15 percent off range. The other is that the sales pretty much always carry a ton of restrictions and exclusions, to the point that it will take you a while to read all the fine print.
So yes, it's usually a good idea to wait for a sale at Macy's. But once it arrives, it might not save you much money -- and it might not include the thing you're hoping to buy.
Staples (SPLS) tends to offer a variety of sales and coupons that mark down everything in stores. But a word of warning: They don't happen like clockwork like you see at Express or Banana Republic, and sometimes the well will run dry for a couple weeks.
Take July: The month started off with a coupon offering 20 percent off any one item, which was immediately followed by another coupon offering $5 off $30. But then things quieted down for about a month: There were a few department-specific sales ($30 off any one tablet, for instance) and one sale that was exclusive to rewards members, but no across-the-board sales. Then in mid-August we got another two-week period with good coupons, and now we're once again in a dry period for sales.
So if you're going to Staples for something you don't need right away -- a new laptop, for instance, or a shredder for your office -- you might consider waiting a few weeks to see if a coupon pops up. But if you urgently need some office supplies, don't bother waiting around.
Of the 20 retailers we looked at, these were the six that tend to have frequent sales or coupons that discount everything in the store by a fixed amount.
But plenty of retailers that didn't make the listed still have their share of sales and discounts. Large department and discount store like Walmart (WMT) , Target (TGT) and Sears (SHLD) tend to have low prices across the board and mainly hold their sales on very specific products, product lines or departments; as such, it doesn't make sense to wait around for a big coupon to discount the product you have your eye on. There are also retailers like Aeropostale, which has a lot of sales but tends to use phrases like "up to" and "select items," which makes it hard to know what's on sale and how much an item is discounted.
That's not to say that you aren't getting good deals at these places. But they're tough to predict, so don't spend all month waiting for the coupons of your dreams to show up in your inbox.