U.S. markets traded in negative territory midday Wednesday as implications of the Federal Reserve maintaining low interest rates loomed large. In December, most members of the Federal Open Market Committee projected four rate hikes in 2016. That number has been scaled back to two rate hikes, through there is a growing number of officials who project only one rate hike. Also weighing on investors' minds is the uncertainity surrounding the U.K.'s Brexit vote next week. Crude oil retreated 3% to $46.48 a barrel by noon, off from last week's highs above $50.
Kroger (KR) shares gained nearly 4% early Thursday after the company reported results for its fiscal first quarter ending May 31. The grocery retailer reported earnings of $0.70 a share on revenue of $34.6 billion, up from $0.62 a share on $33.1 billion in the year-ago quarter. Kroger said that it expects net earnings for 2016 to come in at the lower to mid-point of the $2.10 to $2.28 a share range the company guided earlier.
Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) fell nearly 6% amid the broader selloff in energy stocks as well the oil and gas company's announced plan to sell 5.25 million shares of common stock for approximately $827 million. Proceeds of the sale are expected to be used in part to fund Pioneer's acquisition of Devon Energy's (DVN) Midland Basin assets and other costs associated with the transaction. The balance of the proceeds are expected to be used for general corporate purposes and developing its acreage position in West Texas.
Macy's (M) shares gained about 1% Thursday after the company reached an agreement with union workers at its Herald Square and other New York City locations. The 5,000-member union sought raises, a more affordable health care plan and other benefits. Had an agreement not been reached, workers threatened to walk off the job Thursday.
Yahoo (YHOO) shares fell roughly 0.5% along with the broader market, despite an upgrade by an analyst team at Citi. The team now rates Yahoo a Buy, up from Neutral, due in part to the likeliness that Yahoo will sell its core business for at least $5 billion. Citi raised its price target on Yahoo to $43, which represents a 17% upside to its current trading price.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) shares fell nearly 5% Thursday. Real Money's James Passeri reported that the troubled Canadian pharmaceutical company has its back "up against the wall" if the company breaches covenants on its $31 billion debt load. One of the company's only options may be to sell assets, according the Passeri's report.
-- Written by Carleton English