Many sectors rebounded on Wednesday, but those once high-flying tech stocks continued to slide.
The level of tension over a Russian military conflict with Ukraine was dialed back a bit after Russian President Putin indicated a willingness to hold talks, and claimed he had pulled troops back from the border.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 117 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 10, but the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) fell another 13 points.
Let's start with those Internet and social media "momentum stocks," where all of the momentum right now is on the downside.
Facebook (FB) and Amazon (AMZN) both lost about 2 percent. Google (GOOG) fell 1 percent and Twitter (TWTR) lost 3½ percent.
Yahoo (YHOO) dropped 6½ percent despite news that it's about to get a cash windfall when Alibaba goes public. Yahoo owns a huge stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant.
The other story of the day was earnings. On the upside:
• The health insurance provider Humana (HUM) rose 8½ percent as net easily beat expectations. Humana shares have jumped more than 50 percent over the past year.
• A pair of leading videogame makers rallied on strong results. Electronic Arts (EA) jumped 21 percent and Activision (ATVI) rose 9 percent. Over the past year, shares of EA have soared 84 percent.
• Mondelez (MDLZ) rose 8 percent. In addition to strong results, the company is combining its coffee business with D.E. Master Blenders (DEMBF).
• And shares of Walt Disney (DIS) slipped nearly 1 percent despite strong results, led by the movie blockbuster "Frozen."
There was also a long list of earnings disappointments.
• Whole Foods (WFM) tumbled 19 percent after lowering its outlook for a third time.
• AOL (AOL) dropped 21 percent. The company is the parent of Daily Finance, which publishes this report.
• Groupon (GRPN) slid 20 percent on a wider loss and a weak forecast.
• King Digital (KING) fell 13 percent. The maker of "Candy Crush" went public in March at $22.50 a share. It closed today at $16.27.
The online retailer Zulily (ZU) got the starch kicked out of it, dropping 30 percent.
FireEye (FEYE), a computer security firm, tumbled 23 percent.
And Aegerion Pharmaceuticals (AEGR) dropped 21 percent on a big earnings miss.
Other biotechs were also weak. Myriad Genetics (MYGN) fell 10 percent.
What to Watch Thursday:
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appears before the Senate Budget Committee in Washington.
Selected chain retailers release April sales.
The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates at 10 a.m.
These notable companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:
After Market: A Good Day All Around (Except for Tech Stocks)
"Your daily habits and routines are the reason you got into this mess," writes Trent Hamm, founder of TheSimpleDollar.com. "Spend some time thinking about how you spend money each day, each week and each month." Do you really need your daily latte? Can you bring your lunch to work instead of buying it four times a week? Ask yourself: What can I change without sacrificing my lifestyle too much?
Remove all credit cards from your wallet and leave them at home when you go shopping, advises WiseBread contributor Sabah Karimi. “Even if you earn cash back or other rewards with credit card purchases, stop spending with your credit cards until you have your finances under control,” she writes.
If you do a lot of online shopping at one retailer, you may have stored your credit card information on the site to make the checkout process easier. But that also makes it easier to charge items you don't need. So clear that information. "If you’re paying for a recurring service, use a debit card issued from a major credit card service linked to your checking account," Hamm writes.
Reward yourself when you reach debt payoff goals. "The only way to completely pay off your credit card debt is to keep at it, and to do that, you must keep yourself motivated," Bakke writes. Just make sure to reward yourself within reason. For example, instead of a weeklong vacation, plan a weekend camping trip. "If you aim to reduce your credit card debt from $10,000 to $5,000 in two months," Bakke writes, "give yourself more than a pat on the back."
“Establish a budget,” writes Money Crashers contributor David Bakke. “If you don't scale back your spending, you'll dig yourself into a deeper hole." You can use personal finance tools like Mint.com, or make your own Excel spreadsheet that includes your monthly income and expenses. Then scrutinize those budget categories to see where you can cut costs.
Sort your credit card interest rates from highest to lowest, then tackle the card with the highest rate first. "By paying off the balance with the highest interest first, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards," writes Mint.com spokeswoman Hitha Prabhakar.
To make a dent in your debt, you need to pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card statements each month. "Paying the minimum -– usually 2 to 3 percent of the outstanding balance -– only prolongs a debt payoff strategy," Prabhakar writes. "Strengthen your commitment to pay everything off by making weekly, instead of monthly, payments." Or if your minimum payment is $100, try doubling it and paying off $200 or more.
If you have a high-interest card with a balance that you’re confident you can pay off in a few months, Hamm recommends moving the debt to a card that offers a zero-interest balance transfer. "You’ll need to pay off the debt before the balance transfer expires, or else you’re often hit with a much higher interest rate," he warns. "If you do it carefully, you can save hundreds on interest this way."
Have any birthday gifts or old wedding presents collecting dust in your closet? Look for items you can sell on eBay or Craigslist. "Do some research to make sure you list these items at a fair and reasonable price," Karimi writes. “Take quality photos, and write an attention-grabbing headline and description to sell the item as quickly as possible." Any profits from sales should go toward your debt.
If you receive a job bonus around the holidays or during the year, allocate that money toward your debt payoff plan. "Avoid the temptation to spend that bonus on a vacation or other luxury purchase," Karimi writes. It’s more important to fix your financial situation than own the latest designer bag.