Published December 22, 2011
As Christmas inches closer, expect trading volume to thin. New York Stock Exchange composite volume of 3.6 billion shares was 10% below the one-month average and 17% less than the one-year average.
Falling technology stocks clipped gains overall Wednesday. The Dow and the S&P 500 edged back to positive territory, but the Nasdaq fell a full percent.
Oracle (ORCL) shares slumped 11% after reporting a rare earnings miss, which weighed on the five technology stocks in the Dow.: IBM (IBM), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), Cisco (CSWCO), Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC). Together, they shaved 54 points off the blue chip average. That means, the Dow would have been higher by 58 points if it weren’t for tech.
Thursday morning, futures are indicating a higher open for stocks. Asian markets closed lower Thursday, and many European markets are trading in positive territory.
Micron Technology (MU) shares may be a big drag, as the semiconductor company reported a much wider-than-expected first-quarter loss of 19 cents a share, or $187 million. The company blamed price declines for some of its products.
In other stock news, Bank of America (BAC) agreed to fork over a record $335 million Wednesday to settle civil charges that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated against Hispanic and black homebuyers between 2004 and 2008. That was before BofA bought Countrywide.
Countrywide had specialized in so-called subprime mortgages, which focused on many minority borrowers and charged them higher interest rates and fees. The Justice Department says the "victims had no idea they were being victimized. They were thrilled to have gotten a loan…"
More than 200,000 affected borrowers in 41 states will receive the money. Bank of America shares closed above $5 Wednesday after slipping below it Tuesday.
While holiday shopping sales broke records on Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- in addition to several other gimmick days this holiday season -- some Best Buy (BBY) customers won’t be getting their presents in time for Christmas.
Best Buy is canceling some orders placed online because the items ordered have been backordered since Thanksgiving. In a statement, Best Buy apologized for the inconvenience.
Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), unlike many of its peers, hasn’t offered deep discounts or free shipping under $99 this holiday season. But the specialty retailer was able to beat Wall Street earnings expectations with a profit of $228.5 million, or 95 cents a share, in its most recent quarter.
Revenue of $2.34 billion, however, was a slight miss, while same-store sales rose 4.1%.