A Successful Gamble, Weak Data, and a Quashed Rumor: Market Recap

A weaker than expected payroll report weighed heavily on the markets on Wednesday. ADP reported that an average of 191,000 new private sector payrolls were added per month in the first quarter, and March’s numbers fell about 17 percent below that at 158,000 additions. This compares against expectations for about 200,000 additions.

DJIA: -0.76% to 14,550.30 S&P 500: -1.06% to 1,553.68 NASDAQ: -1.11% to 3,218.60
Gold: -1.15% to $1,557.70 per ounce WTI Crude: -2.83% to $94.44 per barrel U.S. 10-Year: -0.050 points to 1.810%.

The Energy Information Administration reported that an increase in refinery outputs pushed crude stockpiles well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. The weekly petroleum status report showed inventories jumped by 2.7 million barrels in the week ended March 29, bringing the total store to 388.6 million barrels.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, issued a statement on Wednesday revealing that the IMF reached a staff-level agreement to contribute 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) to Cyprus’s bailout program.

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S&P 500 Index Chart - Yahoo! Finance

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories:

Social media gaming guru Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) took a gamble — literally, and figuratively — and judging by investor response, the gamble has paid off. Following the announcement that the firm was offering real-currency online gambling in the U.K., Zynga shares have soared as much as 15 percent on Wednesday… (Read more.)

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On Twitter last week, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk said that he was “putting his money where his mouth was,” and he was right. But it wasn’t in the sense that people were expecting, evidently. Tesla unveiled its new financing plan for the Model S, its flagship sedan. While the program offers some exceptional upsides and is truly a new way of financing a vehicle, the way that the company packaged it left a bit desired, and raised concerns and even scorn among observers and investors. Shares closed the day down 7.3 percent… (Read more.)

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) closed the day down 2.8 percent, surfing a 1.55 percent decline in the financial sector at large. The bank was unable to shrug off bad economic mojo, as CEO Brian Moynihan held the first part of a two-day even in Chicago with more than 100 of the bank’s regional managers. As a source with direct knowledge of the project told Bloomberg, these leaders will be pushed to boost slumping revenue and be judged on how much progress they have made in selling the bank’s products — from credit cards to mortgages — to its 53 million customers… (Read more.)

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) closed the day down 2.23 percent after a former trader pleaded guilty to an unauthorized $8.3 billion futures trade in 2007 that lost the company $118 million.

Monsanto (NYSE:MON) closed the day up 0.85 percent after reporting better-than-expected second-quarter profit of $2.74 per share, which compares to estimates for $2.58 per share. The seed maker also raised its fiscal 2013 earnings forecast from a range of $4.30 to $4.40 per share to a range of $4.40 to $4.50 per share.

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ConAgra Foods (NYSE:CAG) closed the day down 1.94 percent after reporting third-quarter earnings of $0.55 per share, just one cent shy of expectations. Diluted EPS from continuing operations fell from $0.67 in the year-ago period to $0.29.

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) closed the day down 0.90 percent after getting whacked with a downgrade to Neutral from Goldman Sachs. The firm’s new price target of $101 represents a 19 percent upside on Tuesday’s closing price.

Vodafone Group (NASDAQ:VOD) closed down 4.51 percent after Verizon (NYSE:VZ) filed a document with the SEC stating that “as Verizon has said many times, it would be a willing purchaser of the 45 percent stake that Vodafone holds in Verizon Wireless. It does not, however, currently have any intention to merge with or make an offer for Vodafone, whether alone or in conjunction with others.”

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