Closing Bell

Most regional stocks finish lower

Updated: 2013-05-08T21:11:36Z

Most regional stocks ran in the slow lane Wednesday, with few big movers up or down.

The biggest percentage losers on the day included YRC, O’Reilly Automotive and Cerner. Their losses were muted, with only YRC falling more than 2 percent.

On the plus side, Sprint added 10 cents to close 1.4 percent higher. Waddell & Reed gained 1.2 percent.

Overall, the Dow Jones industrial average rose, closing above 15,000 for a second day after breaching the landmark level for the first time Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a day without any major economic releases, investors focused on company earnings as reporting for the first quarter draws to a close. Although earnings growth has slowed from last quarter, profits are at record levels and projected to rise throughout the year.

Internet company AOL plunged as its subscription revenue fell, and hamburger chain Wendy's slumped after it reported revenue that fell short of Wall Street's expectations. On the positive side, high-end grocer Whole Foods and the video game publisher Electronic Arts rose sharply after predicting full-year profits that were higher than analysts were expecting.

Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, predicted more gains in the short term, but he also said a pullback was likely at some point because the rise in the market is beginning to overstate the improvement in the economy.

“We're still going to keep grinding higher,” Wren said. But, he added: “I do think the market is ahead of itself.”

Stocks have defied predictions that a sell-off would follow the spring surge as signs emerged that growth could be set for a slowdown. Both the Dow and the Standard & Poor's 500 index have gained every month of the year and are trading at record highs.

On Wednesday, AOL plunged $3.68, or 8.9 percent, to $37.74 after the company reported earnings that fell short of the forecasts of Wall Street analysts who follow the stock. Subscription revenue fell 9 percent.

Wendy's fell 34 cents, or 5.6 percent, to $5.78 after it reported a 2 percent rise in revenue to $603.7 million, short of the $615 million forecast of analysts.

Materials and information technology companies gained the most of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 index, rising 0.9 percent and 0.8 percent respectively. The two industry groups have surged in the last month and are finding favor with investors after lagging the index for the first three months of the year.

The Dow closed up 48.92 points, or 0.3 percent, at 15,105.12. The index is 15.3 percent higher for the year. The S&P 500 index was 6.73 points higher, or 0.4 percent, at 1,632.69, extending its advance for 2013 to 14.5 percent.

While stocks have surged this year, the economic recovery has been plodding. That has left some analysts predicting a pullback, or at least a slowdown for the market.

“Bad things happen when markets go straight up,” said Jim Russell, a regional investment director at U.S. Bank. “We'd like to see the market take a breather, consolidate gains, and resume a modest upward glide path in the weeks ahead.”

About 90 percent of companies in the S&P 500 index have reported their earnings for the first quarter.

Financial analysts predict that earnings will end up rising 5.1 percent versus the same period a year ago, according to S&P Capital IQ. Although that's slower growth than the 7.7 percent growth of the previous quarter, they are expected to grow 12 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013.

Whole Foods climbed $9.39, or 10.1 percent, to $102.19 after the natural foods store chain said its fiscal second-quarter net income rose 20 percent. The company also raised its profit forecast for the full year.

Electronic Arts, which makes the Madden Football games and SimCity, jumped $3.15, or 17.1 percent, to $21.56 after it projected profits for the current fiscal year that were higher than analysts were expecting.

In other trading, the Nasdaq composite gained 16.64 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,413.27. The Russell 2000, an index of smaller stocks, rose 2.59 points, or 0.3 percent, to 970.41.

The BATS 1000 rose 62.58 points, or 0.34 percent, to close at 18,406.94.

Regional stocks

Capitol Federal Financial rose 3 cents, or 0.25%, to close at $11.99.

Cerner Corp. fell 75 cents, or 0.79%, to close at $94.21.

Commerce Bancshares Inc. fell 1 cents, or 0.02%, to close at $40.96.

Compass Minerals rose 80 cents, or 0.92%, to close at $88.05.

DST Systems Inc. rose 10 cents, or 0.14%, to close at $69.20.

Ferrellgas Partners L.P. rose 6 cents, or 0.30%, to close at $20.28.

Garmin Ltd. rose 16 cents, or 0.45%, to close at $35.70.

Great Plains Energy fell 15 cents, or 0.62%, to close at $24.02.

H&R Block Inc. fell 26 cents, or 0.93%, to close at $27.70.

Inergy L.P. fell 9 cents, or 0.38%, to close at $23.88.

Kansas City Life Insurance Co. rose 21 cents, or 0.56%, to close at $37.56.

Kansas City Southern rose 10 cents, or 0.09%, to close at $109.96.

Layne Christensen Co. rose 37 cents, or 1.83%, to close at $20.64.

O'Reilly Automotive Inc. fell $1.33, or 1.20%, to close at $109.45.

Sprint Nextel Corp. rose 10 cents, or 1.39%, to close at $7.32.

UMB Financial Corp. fell 3 cents, or 0.06%, to close at $50.80.

Waddell & Reed Financial Corp. rose 52 cents, or 1.18%, to close at $44.49.

YRC Worldwide Inc. fell 36 cents, or 2.52%, to close at $13.93.

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