Stocks Open Modestly Lower; Priceline Dives, Paycom Soars – Investor’s Business Daily

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Stocks opened lower Wednesday, though indexes pared some losses.

The Nasdaq, Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 were down 0.3%.

Economic news on the stock market today opened with the monthly job cuts report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas. U.S. employers laid off 156,000 workers in April. The report revised the March cuts estimate to 194,000, down from an initial tally of 200,000. Economists had projected a slight decrease, to 193,000 cuts, in April.

Non-farm productivity declined 1% in the first quarter vs. the fourth quarter, according to a preliminary estimate from the Labor Department. Consensus projections called for a 1.2% decrease. Labor costs jumped 4.1%, above estimates for a 3.5% rise.

The trade deficit dropped abruptly in March, the Commerce Department said, slimming to $40.4 billion vs. the $47 billion gap in February. Analyst consensus had expected $41.4 billion.

At 9:45 a.m. ET, researcher Markit delivers its services purchasing mangers index for April. At 10 a.m., the Institute for Supply Management offers up its non-manufacturing index, and the Commerce Department reports March factory orders numbers. At 10:30, the weekly oil inventories reports is due from the Energy Information Administration.

Priceline (PCLN) crumbled 11%, the early headliner in a big day of earnings reports. The travel site’s first-quarter earnings and revenue beat consensus forecasts, but second-quarter earnings guidance was weak. Time Warner Inc. (TWX), Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) and Anheuser Busch (BUD) were also in motion after quarterly reports.

Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) climbed 4%. The Atlanta-based operator of the New York Stock Exchange announced it had ended any discussions regarding an acquisition of the London Stock Exchange Group. Intercontinental shares have been in a gradual uptrend since announcing its interest in LSE in March. The stock is attempting to build the right side of a consolidation, but has been stalled by resistance at its 40-week moving average.

Genetic screening equipment maker Illumina (ILMN) dropped 5% ahead of the bell. It reported late Tuesday its Q1 revenue and earnings both stopped short of analyst expectations. Management also trimmed its second-quarter earnings and revenue guidance to below consensus forecasts.

On the IBD 50 list, Medivation (MDVN) swung up nearly 5% after news reports late Tuesday said Pfizer (PFE) approached the company regarding a possible acquisition deal. Medivation had declined a $9.3 billion takeover bid from France’s Sanofi (SNY) last week.

Paycom Software (PAYC) popped 7% in premarket action. The developer of human resources management software reported an across-the-board first quarter beat late Tuesday. The stock has been racing up the right side of a possible base, ending Tuesday 71% above a February low.

A couple of notable market changes during Tuesday’s tough session: the Nasdaq, already below its 200-day moving average, lost its grip on its 50-day line. The Russell 2000 dropped through its 200-day line in rising trade. Today’s critical test for both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 will be whether they can hold above the short-term lows marked on Friday.

Global markets felt their share of selling pressure on Wednesday. China’s yuan appeared to be a key factor, diving sharply after the People’s Bank of China loosened its peg to the dollar. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.7%. The Shanghai Composite shed 0.1%. In Japan, Tokyo’s stock exchange remained closed for a holiday.  Benchmark indexes in Paris and Frankfurt traded down a bit less than 1% near midday. London’s FTSE 100 was off 1.2%.

The euro and yen eased from Tuesday’s highs vs. the dollar, gold slumped less than 1% and oil traded up nearly 1%, taking back a piece of Tuesday’s 3% loss.