U.S. indices are failing to continue their recent rally midday Thursday as the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the Nasdaq were all in the red at noon.
Rising oil inventories is putting negative pressure on securities following the release of the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest weekly status report. The EIA reported that oil inventories rose 2.1 million barrels last week. Oil product inventories also increased, with gasoline up 3 million barrels and distillates up 1.4 million.
In what should be good news for markets, however, weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 7,000 last week to 262,000. But that news hasn't had much of an effect on securities today.
Wal-Mart (WMT) is today's most high-profile laggard, declining some 3% on heavy volume Thursday following the release of the company's fourth-quarter earnings results. The big-box retailer reported an 8% drop in fourth-quarter sales on its way to missing analysts' top- and bottom-line expectations.
Shares of Bank of America (BAC), an Action Alerts PLUS portfolio holding, were also leading the way down -- 3% on heavy volume -- as the financial sector experienced some turbulence. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) was also off more than 2%. This reverses the 7% spike the S&P's financial index experienced over the past three days of trading.
Devon Energy (DVN) shares were tanking on seven times their daily trading average after the company followed up its dividend cut with an increased equity sale. Jim Cramer, co-manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, posited on his "Mad Money" program Wednesday that the company upping its secondary offering to 69 million shares from 55 million could be a sign of investor interest in the company.
On the positive side of the market, Kinder Morgan (KMI) shares continue to rise after Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) revealed a 25.5 million share stake in the company valued at about $400 million.
SunEdison Semiconductor (SEMI) shares were spiking 50% on more than 10 times its normal volume after the company said that it would explore strategic alternatives for its business in the wake an unidentified investor's interest in buying the company. "We have not received a definitive offer for the sale of the Company, but we have received unsolicited preliminary indications of interest and so our Board believes it is in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders to conduct a thorough evaluation of our strategic alternatives," said CEO Shaker Sadasivam.
Finally, Ingram Micro (IM) is up over 20% after it agreed to be acquired by China's Tianjin Tianhai Investment for roughly $6 billion. Tianjin will purchase the company for $38.90 per share, a 31.2% premium over its previous closing price.