All good things must come to an end, including the six-day winning streaks for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. The market rally ran out of steam amid some disappointing earnings news and a surprisingly weak report on home sales.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 12 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 4 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 34 points.
Telecom and tech stocks led the decline. Many of the Nasdaq's momentum plays were a bit played out today. Netflix (NFLX) and Tesla Motors (TSLA) both fell about 5 percent. Facebook (FB), ahead of its earnings report, lost 2.5 percent, Amazon.com (AMZN) and Google (GOOG) lost 1.5 percent.
Amgen (AMGN) slid 5 percent after an earnings miss. Its net tumbled from a year ago. But fellow biotech Gilead Sciences (GILD) gained 1.5 percent as its net tripled, led by strong sales of its controversial and very expensive drug to treat hepatitis.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Also beating expectations, Boeing (BA) gained 2.5 percent. It also raised its outlook for the rest of the year. That helped rival aerospace giants Lockheed Martin (LMT) and General Dynamics (GD), both up more than 3 percent.
Delta Air Lines (DAL) rose 6 percent, leading the transportation sector higher. It reported strong earnings despite the slew of flight cancellations during the winter.
The Internet money transfer firm Xoom (XOOM) did just that -- zoomed ahead by 17 percent after beating expectations. And the shoe retailer, Skechers USA (SKX), rose 4.5 percent. Over the past year, it's raced ahead by more than 70 percent.
On the downside:
AT&T (T) fell 4 percent even though its net was in line with expectations.
After Market: 6-Day Win Streak Ends on Earnings, Home Sales
"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.