Market Recap: Moody’s, Retail Deflate Stocks

Markets closed mixed on Wall Street today: Dow +0.03%, S&P -0.09%, Nasdaq +0.02%, Oil +0.24%, Gold -0.19%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) rose to $101.15 a barrel. Precious metals were down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) falling to $1,721.60 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 0.57% to settle at $33.53.

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Today’s markets were mixed because:

1) Retail. The Department of Commerce reported today that U.S. retail sales rose in January, but less than expected, as auto sales fell sharply. Additionally, this morning’s report downwardly revised retail sales growth for the preceding two months, painting a rather dismal picture for consumer spending in the two months it should have flourished — that is, the holiday shopping season.

2) Moody’s. Late Monday, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded six euro-zone countries — Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain — and put Austria, France, and the United Kingdom, all of which have top-tier triple-A credit ratings, on watch for a possible downgrade, which means they have a 30 percent chance of being downgraded within the next 18 months.

3) Earnings. The relatively flat day of trading is at least partly the result of a rather mixed bag of earnings reports, with no major players making waves with their quarterly results. Michael Kors (NYSE:KORS) shares jumped after posting better-than-expected fiscal third quarter earnings and revenue, while Zipcar (NASDAQ:ZIP) shares jumped after the company, which made its stock market debut last April, posted a 21 percent revenue bump and a 25 percent increase in total membership during the quarter. Masco (NYSE:MAS) and Goodyear Tire (NYSE:GT) shares sank after reporting losses, while drug companies Hospira (NYSE:HSP) and Watson (NYSE:WPI) both reported better-than-expected quarterly results, sending shares higher.

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