A pair of economic reports Wednesday defused some of the recent concern that the U.S. economy has fallen back into a funk. ADP's report on private sector job creation was decent, and ISM's report on non-manufacturing activity was surprisingly strong. The President of the Philly Fed said he expects the economy to grow at 3 percent rate this year.
But the major averages edged lower. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) slipped 5 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) fell 3 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) lost 20 points.
IBM (IBM) and Disney (DIS) both added about 1 percent. Those gains were offset by 1 percent declines by Pfizer (PFE), Microsoft (MSFT) and Chevron (CVX).
Merck (MRK) was little changed. Earnings were a hair below expectations, but the company also announced a cancer drug partnership with a group of competitors.
But earnings news took a toll on a number of other issues. Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) fell 10 percent as its sales numbers disappointed investors. Estee Lauder (EL) fell 5½ percent. Its forecast for the current quarter was weak.
3D Systems (DDD) tumbled 15 percent after lowering its outlook. That also dragged down competitors in 3D printing: Stratasys (SSYS), Exone (XONE) and Voxeljet (VJET).
The freight logistics firm C.H. Robinson (CHRW) skidded 9 percent on disappointing results.
And there were two companies that reported strong quarterly numbers, but fell anyway. Gilead Sciences (GILD) beat expectations and reported strong sales of its recently approved drug for hepatitis C infections. Its stock fell nearly 5 percent. And Ralph Lauren (RL) lost 3½ percent. In addition to upbeat earnings, it raised its outlook. The company is also likely to get lots of positive PR once the Olympics begin. It designed the U.S. team uniforms.
On the upside, Myriad Genetics (MYGN) jumped 15 percent. It beat expectations, raised its outlook and made an acquisition. And Tableau Software (DATA) rallied 12½ percent. Earnings blew past expectations, and Goldman Sachs raised its rating.
Finally, CVS Caremark (CVS) shares lost 1 percent after saying it would stop selling cigarettes -- which generates $2 billion a year in sales. But rival drugstore chains Walgreen (WAG) gained 3 percent and Rite Aid (RAD) gained 2 percent as they could gain disaffected customers.
What to Watch Thursday:
Selected chain retailers release January sales comparisons throughout the day.
At 8:30 a.m. Eastern time the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims and fourth-quarter productivity data; the Commerce Department releases international trade data for December.
Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates at 10 a.m.
These major companies are due to release quarterly financial statements:
21st Century Fox (FOX)
Credit Suisse (CS)
Dunkin Brands (DNKN)
General Motors (GM)
Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF)
New York Times Co. (NYT)
News Corp. (NWS)
Philip Morris International (PM)
Post Holdings (POST)
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.