Stock indexes retreated on Wednesday from the record highs set the day before, after investors got a worrisome signal about the economy: The interest rate on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to its lowest level since last October. For some market pros, that's a flashing yellow light, warning that an economic slowdown could be right around the corner.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) lost 101 points, about 0.6 percent, snapping a five session win streak. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) fell 9 points, about 0.5 percent, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped another 29 points, about 0.7 percent.
Retail stocks captured a lot of attention Wednesday.
Macy's (M) was little changed after its quarterly report. Earnings were slightly above expectations, but sales slightly below. The company also boosted its dividend by 25 percent. Kohl's (KSS) fell more than 3 percent on word the CEO is planning a management shake-up. Kohl's reports earnings on Thursday morning.
Sears (SHLD) fell 6 percent. It's considering the sale of a 51 percent stake in Sears Canada. J.C. Penney (JCP) lost 3 percent. And Fossil (FOSL), which sells fashion accessories, dropped 10 percent after cutting its earnings guidance.
On the plus side, Kate Spade (KATE) gained 8½ percent as sales jumped. Its stock has soared nearly 70 percent over the past year. And Zulily (ZU) rose 9 percent as the lock-up period expired, allowing insiders to sell stock. The selling wasn't as heavy as expected -– a sign of confidence in the online retailer.
But executives at video game maker Electronic Arts (EA) have been selling shares. The stock fell 2½ percent. Rival game maker Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) fell 8 percent. Its loss was worse than expected.
Biotechs were mostly higher, with Amgen (AMGN), Celgene (CELG) and Gilead (GILD) all up about 1 percent. But Enzymotec (ENZY) tumbled 32 percent as revenue fell short of expectations.
Elsewhere, Sony (SNE) fell 6½ percent. It expects a loss for the year as sales of electronics have disappointed. New York Times Co. (NYT) fell 4½ percent. It replaced executive editor Jill Abramson.
Whirlpool lost 4 percent. TheStreet.com says the stock broke below a key technical level. And LoJack (LOJN) jumped 19 percent after an arbitration panel dismissed claims in a dispute with a licensee.
What to Watch Thursday:
The Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims and its consumer price index for April at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
The Treasury Department releases international money flows data for March at 9 a.m.
The Federal Reserve releases industrial production for April at 9:15 a.m.
At 10 a.m., Freddie Mac reports weekly mortgage rates, the National Association of Home Builders releases its housing market index for May and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia releases its May survey of manufacturing conditions for the Mid-Atlantic region.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements.
After Market: An Interesting Warning Sign Pauses the Bull Run
Have you ever heard of the 30-day rule? As a frugal guy, this is one of my favorite rules in spending. If you’re about to spend any more than $20 on something that is unnecessary, don’t. Instead, put the item down and wait 30 days to buy it. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save by not making unnecessary frivolous purchases.
I literally mean freeze your credit cards. It seems a bit extreme, but think of it this way. The average credit card comes with a 13 percent or higher interest rate. By simply not using credit cards as often, you’ll save a ton. So, get a plastic sandwich bag and put your credit cards in it. Fill it with water, zip it up and throw it in the freezer. Without easy access to those tempting pieces of plastic, you probably won’t use them as much. However, they’ll still be around -- in an emergency, you can retrieve them from the ice.
Have you ever looked around your house, seen a few items and thought, “I could have made that!” You probably could have. The only thing is, you didn’t. Instead you paid for it. From now on, before you buy something you think you can make on your own, give it a shot. I saved a little over a hundred bucks about two weeks ago. I needed a new bird cage for my fiancé’s doves. Instead of buying a cage for $200, I made one that was far bigger for less than $80.
Did you know that a clean air filter in your car can lead to 7 percent more fuel efficiency? That means at current gas prices, with a clean air filter, you’ll save about $100 a year, if you drive the average 10,000 miles.
How often on the way home from the office do you want to stop for a convenient quick meal? You’ve had a long day, and it feels justified. But it costs much more than a home-cooked meal. The answer is your slow cooker. Use it to prepare your meal in the morning on days you know will be rough. This way, you can skip the fast food and rush home to an already ready home-cooked meal.
Do you pay a maintenance fee for your bank account? Why? Tons of banks offer checking and savings accounts without them. Look to your local credit union or even switch to an online bank. When comparing your options, also look at the interest you can earn. Currently, I get about 3 percent on checking and about 3.4 percent on savings, but who knows what kind of great deals you can find?
I’ve had tons of options to sign up for customer rewards programs and I was just too busy. So, I didn’t sign up. Then one day, I realized that I was paying for rewards I wasn’t getting. The cost of the rewards obviously trickles down to the end consumer. So, if the end consumer doesn’t take part, he or she loses money in the process. Since I’ve signed up for every reward program around me, I’ve saved at least 20 or 30 bucks a month in rewards.