After Market: Investors Pause to Assess the Ukraine Crisis

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Investors took a breather Wednesday to assess what's happening along the Russia-Ukraine front, and to consider what might come next. After two days of wild swings propelled by news out of that volatile region, the market stayed within a narrow range on Wednesday.

The Fed's Beige Book report had little impact, primarily confirming what we already knew: The severe weather in January and February had a predictable impact on the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 35 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) was little changed, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained 6 points.

Financial stocks continued to move higher. Bank of America (BAC), which sponsors this report, gained 3 percent. Some analysts expect a big increase in the bank's dividend if regulators give the go-ahead over the next few days.

Morgan Stanley (MS) gained about 2 percent. Goldman Sachs (GS), J.P. Morgan (JPM) and Citigroup (C) all gained more than 1 percent.

The day's big winner was gun maker Smith & Wesson (SWHC). It shot up 16 percent as earnings topped expectations and the company raised its outlook as gun sales continue to increase. Rival Sturm Ruger (RGR) rode its coattails, rising 3 percent.

Brown-Forman (BF-A), best known for its Jack Daniel's whiskey, rose 3½ percent as it raised its outlook. And GameStop (GAME) gained nearly 4 percent after upping its dividend.

On the downside, Exxon Mobil (XOM) fell 3 percent on concern about its operations in Russia. Chevron (CVX) and BP (BP) both lost about 1 percent. Solar stocks lost power too. Canadian Solar (CSIQ) slid 10½ percent on an earnings miss and a weak forecast. That reflected poorly on Solar City (SCTY), which fell 3 percent. But those stocks have been huge winners over the longer term. Canadian Solar has soared more than 900 percent over the past year. Solar City is up more than 300 percent from a year ago.

Revlon (REV) fell 2 percent ahead of its after the bell earnings. Hovnanian (HOV) dropped 10 percent as its loss widened and the homebuilder's orders were below expectations. Bob Evans Farms (BOBE) lost 8 percent after badly missing earnings targets. And the biotech firm Xoma (XOMA) tumbled 28 percent. It issued a report questioning the efficacy of its treatment for osteoarthritis.

What to Watch Thursday:
  • At 8:30 a.m. Eastern time the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims and fourth-quarter productivity data.
  • At 10 a.m., Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates and the Commerce Department releases factory orders for January.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements. -Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.


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