Another volatile week on Wall Street ended with a whimper Friday. The market rallied early on the back of a better-than-expected jobs report, but the gains quickly faded. Tensions over the situation in Ukraine prompted investors to take a cautious stance heading into the weekend.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 30 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 1 point, but the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) fell 16 points. Despite the day's loss, the Nasdaq rang up its fifth straight weekly gain. It's up about 3.5 percent so far this year.
The retail sector has had a tough week, with Staples (SPLS), Radio Shack (RSH) and others suffering big losses. But there were two big winners in the sector Friday. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Big Lots (BIG) jumped 23 percent as earnings and sales beat expectations. Still, the stock is a bit lower than it was a year ago. Foot Locker (FL) rose 9 percent. It too topped expectations.
Gap (GPS) edged higher, and that has to be considered a win for shareholders after the company posted a big drop in sales last month. And Delia's (DLIA) rose 11 percent as a big investment firm raised its stake in the company to more than 6 percent.
Biotechs continued to lose momentum. Regeneron (REGN) fell 3 percent after the FDA raised questions about potential side effects from a new cholesterol medication the company is developing with Sanofi (SNY).
Biogen (BIIB) fell 3.5 percent and Illumina (ILMN) lost 1.5 percent.
Analogic (ALOG) dropped 16 percent. The maker of medical imaging systems posted a surge in earnings, but it wasn't big enough to meet expectations.
But some alternative energy companies rallied. Plug Power (PLUG) jumped 30 percent. Fuel Cell (FCEL) gained 17 percent after the Energy Department extended a contract for a fuel cell plant in Connecticut.
Elsewhere, headphone maker Skullcandy (SKUL) jumped 25 percent. Net fell but still beat expectations. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) rose 6 percent in heavy trading.
Coupons.com (COUP) had a spectacular debut. It nearly doubled in price from its $16 a share IPO. But FireEye (FEYE) fell 10 percent after pricing a secondary offering at a pretty steep discount to Thursday's closing price.
What to Watch Monday:
Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans speaks on the economy and monetary policy in Columbus, Ga., at 12:40 p.m. Eastern time.
Urban Outfitters (URBN) reports quarterly earnings after U.S. markets close.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.
8 Zen Tips for Tax Time
After Market: Investors Give Thumbs Up to Jobs Report, Thumbs Down to Russia
Don't parse every receipt and monthly bank statement, says Wenli Wang, a partner in the tax practice at Moss Adams in San Francisco. "Do some homework, so you know what is deductible and what is not," she says. "When you understand what is relevant to your tax prep, you’ll have a game plan."
"Clients spend a lot of time chasing small deductions. I tell them not to go crazy documenting $5 here or $10 there. Concentrate on bigger expenses that save the most in taxes," Wang adds. "And don’t spend money on unnecessary expenses just to save on your taxes."
Avoid such audit triggers as running a cash business, claiming large deductions on minimal income, and reporting dependent exemptions for people who may not actually be your dependents for tax purposes, says Ebong Eka, a Washington accountant and author of "Start Me Up: The No-Business-Plan Business Plan."
If you report a business loss year after year, you risk having the IRS declare your company a hobby, says Mark MacLeod, an accountant and chief financial officer for FreshBooks. "Filling in your Schedule C with nice, even, rounded numbers in the hundreds or thousands is another red flag," he adds.
Buy an accounting system that automates your back office tasks, including tracking income and tax-deductible expenses. There are free and low-cost software packages available, too. FreshBooks' MacLeod -- who obviously has a dog in the fight -- advises business owners to steer clear of software that's designed for professional accountants. "If it's too complicated, you won't understand it and then you won’t use it," he says.
Spare your sanity by hiring a professional who will do right by your tax return while you work for your clients or drum up new business. "What is your time worth?" MacLeod asks. "If you're a graphic designer charging $100 an hour or more, do you want to spend hours on taxes?"
Running late and wilting under the pressure? "File an extension," Berger advises. "If you wait until the last minute, you'll make a lot of mistakes and you could miss the deadline anyway."
If you owe money, pay up. Or at least pay part of your liability and get on a payment plan for the rest. "Clients worry about owing money they don't have. But it's important to file your return on time, or file an extension at least," Berger says. Putting it off will only result in fines and penalties down the line -- not a prospect that invites much in the way of zen.