After Market: Foreign Fears Outweigh Upbeat Economic News

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Stocks drifted lower on Thursday despite some generally upbeat economic news. Fourth-quarter GDP was revised higher and jobless claims declined, but investors are still feeling uncertain. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) edged down by 4 points, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) fell 22, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) slipped 3 points.

Trading was active in the stocks of the nation's biggest banks after the Federal Reserve ruled on their capital plans. Citigroup (C), one of five companies to have its plan rejected, tumbled 5 percent. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Bank of America (BAC), which sponsors this report, fell 1 percent despite getting the Fed's go-ahead. Morgan Stanley (MS) and SunTrust (STI) also fell 1 percent. Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) and Regions Financial (RF) both lost more than 2 percent. But Wells Fargo (WFC) and Capital One (COF) gained more than 1 percent.

Several Nasdaq leaders continued to chip away at their gains from last year. Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) all fell more than 1 percent. Tesla (TSLA) lost 3 percent.

But Twitter (TWTR) rose nearly 4 percent on a report that it has a new music service in the works. It also partnered with Billboard to provide real-time music data.

One of the big stories Wednesday was the disappointing debut of King Digital (KING), the owner of the popular game "Candy Crush." That sparked worries the IPO market had peaked, but those fears were laid to rest today with three successful IPOs.
  • TriNet (TNET), a human resources consultant, jumped 19 percent from its offering price.
  • Square 1 Financial (SQBK) gained 14 percent,
  • And a biotech firm, Applied Genetics (AGTC), jumped 23 percent.
Elsewhere, Baxter International (BAX) rose 4 percent after saying it will split into two separate companies -– one for medical products, the other for bio-pharmaceuticals. Baxter stock is now in the plus column year-over-year, but just barely.

Lululemon Athletica (LULU) gained 6 percent as earnings topped expectations.

Signet Jewelers (SIG), which owns the Jared and Kay chains, gained 6.5 percent on an upbeat forecast.

But GameStop (GAME) issued weak earnings guidance and said it will close more stores. The stock fell 4 percent.

What to Watch Friday:
  • The Commerce Department reports personal spending and income for February at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The University of Michigan releases its final estimate for March consumer sentiment at 10 a.m.
  • Smartphone-maker BlackBerry (BBRY) reports quarterly financial results.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

7 Tax Tips for Investors
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After Market: Foreign Fears Outweigh Upbeat Economic News
The 1099 forms you received from brokerages and other financial institutions might not be the last ones they send. It's common for them to issue corrected versions a little later. Consider getting your tax return ready to go, then waiting until close to April 15 before submitting it. That way, you can incorporate any last-minute changes and avoid having to file an amended return.
Pay attention to when you sell any holding, because the capital gains tax rates differ for long-term and short-term holdings. Short-term capital gains are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate, which could top 30 percent. Long-term gains (those held for more than a year) get preferential rates, which are zero percent for those in low-income brackets and 15 percent for most of us.
If you own underwater stocks, consider selling them for a loss. You can use those losses to offset gains from other sales, reducing your taxes owed. You can always buy back the asset later, if you still believe in it -- just be sure to wait for 31 days to pass, to observe the "wash sale rule."
If you're planning to sell one or more holdings that will give you a really big gain, submit an amended W-4 form to increase your withholding, or send the IRS an estimated tax payment. Underpaying your taxes significantly during the year can lead to a penalty at tax time. You may be protected by a "safe harbor" provision, though, which can save you from having to jump through those hoops.
If you're planning to buy shares of a mutual fund, determine when it will distribute its dividends. Many funds do so near the end of the year, and when that happens, the fund's share price will drop by the amount of the distribution -- which is taxable to shareholders. It's better to just wait until after that payout to buy in.
Mutual funds with high turnover ratios (reflecting a lot of buying and selling in a fund) have expenses for these trades. It's worth favoring funds with low turnover ratios, especially index funds and index-tracking ETFs, which simply hold onto the mix of securities in a given index, without a lot of trading activity. (Index funds generally outperform their higher-turnover counterparts, too.)
Boost the power of your Individual Retirement Accounts by making your annual contributions early in the year, giving the funds more time to grow. Over decades, it can make a significant difference.
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