The stock market lost ground on Wednesday, falling back from record levels after the Federal Reserve moved to increase short-term interest rates. The latest from the Federal Open Market Committee wasn't unexpected, pushing the Fed Funds rate up by a quarter percentage point to reach a new range of 0.5% to 0.75%. Yet what wasn't widely expected was an acceleration in expectations for future rate increases. The Dow fell almost 120 points, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were down as well, but their losses paled in comparison to the declines in Noble Corp. (NYSE: NE), Sibanye Gold (NYSE: SBGL), and Universal Health Services (NYSE: UHS). Below, we'll look more closely at these stocks to tell you why they did so poorly.
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Image source: Noble Corp.
Noble refinances debt, deals with falling energy
Noble Corp. was down 9% in response to several different factors. First, oil prices moved lower, dropping more than $2 to fall below the $51 per barrel level and potentially posing a threat to profits for the offshore drilling services provider. In addition, Noble announced that it would increase the maximum amount of senior notes that it will offer to buy back from $500 million to $750 million. The notes were issued by its wholly owned Noble Holding International subsidiary, and they match up against new senior notes that the subsidiary is looking to offer in order to raise the cash needed to pay down the existing debt. If interest rates start rising more sharply, refinancing operations like Noble's will get pricier, and that makes it important for companies with debt to move quickly in the current environment. In particular, if oil keeps falling back, Noble could have trouble with future refinancing efforts.
Sibanye follows gold lower
Sibanye Gold dropped 10% after the Fed's decision pushed gold prices lower. Bullion was down $15 per ounce to $1,143, and investors apparently took the more hawkish Fed statement as evidence that financing costs for gold will be on the rise more quickly than expected. In addition, higher rates could make the dollar stronger, and that creates headwinds for gold miners to overcome. Sibanye in particular had already declined precipitously after its announced acquisition of U.S. platinum and palladium specialist Stillwater Mining (NYSE: SWC), and poor conditions in the gold market are the last thing Sibanye needs in order to achieve its long-term strategic goals.
Universal feels unhealthy
Finally, Universal Health Services was down 7%. The stock declined in light of an analyst downgrade of the hospital and healthcare facility operator, with analysts at Raymond James reducing their rating from outperform to market perform. Analysts are concerned about a federal investigation into practices at Universal Health facilities and what effect political inquiries could have on the company going forward. With Universal Health already having gone through difficulties related to the possible impact of an Obamacare repeal on its finances, shareholders are feeling especially punished after the company-specific news that keeps weighing on its future prospects.
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