After Market: Obama Talks Tough on Crimea, and Investors Shiver


Stocks turned lower Wednesday after President Obama took a harder line against Russia. The president called for more sanctions against Russia in the wake of its invasion and annexation of Crimea, which raised fresh geopolitical concerns on Wall Street.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty ImagesIn a speech at the European Union headquarters in Brussels Wednesday, President Barack Obama said Russia stood alone on the Ukraine crisis, cementing Western opposition to its takeover of Crimea.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gave up strong early gains to end down 99 points (0.6 percent), and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) fell 13 points (0.7 percent). But the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) was the big loser, dropping 60 points (1.4 percent).

Facebook (FB) slid 7 percent after revealing it was paying $2 billion to buy Oculus, a virtual-reality headset maker. It's the company's second big acquisition this year.

Other big name Nasdaq stocks dragging the index lower: Twitter (TWTR), down 7 percent; Tesla (TSLA), down 3 percent; and Microsoft (MSFT), down more than 1 percent. Twitter, after a big run-up last year, is now down 36 percent over the past three months.

Panera Bread (PNRA) lost 7 percent on worries about earnings and a brokerage downgrade.

At the NYSE, the big story was the IPO of King Digital (KING), maker of the hugely popular game "Candy Crush." The stock –- you guessed it -- got crushed, falling 15 percent below its $22.50 a share offering price. Investors are concerned that King is a one-trick pony, and the company may never hit it big again after "Candy Crush" inevitably fades.

On the plus side, health care stocks rallied as House Republicans proposed a bill to avoid the planned cut in payments to Medicare providers. Quest Diagnostics (DGX) and Tenet Healthcare (THC) rose 5½ percent. Lab Corp (LH) gained 4 percent.

And Dish Network (DISH) rallied 8 percent on a Bloomberg report that it has approached rival DirecTV (DTV) about a merger. DirecTV gained 6 percent. The retailer Five Below (FIVE) gained 11 percent as earnings topped expectations. But International Game Technology (IGT) fell 8 percent after cutting its guidance.

Finally, a pair of small drug companies got clobbered. Insmed (INSM) fell 14 percent. The only drug it makes failed to meet targets for treating lung infections.

And Exelixis (EXEL) tumbled 39 percent on disappointing results from a trial of its prostate cancer drug.

What to Watch Thursday:

  • The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, and the Commerce Department releases final data on fourth-quarter gross domestic product -- both at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

  • At 10 a.m., Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates, and the National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales for February.

These notable companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:

  • Accenture (ACN)

  • GameStop (GME)

  • Lululemon Athletica (LULU)

  • Re/Max Holdings (RMAX)

  • Restoration Hardware (RH)

  • Winnebago (WGO)

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

Originally published