Wal-Mart’s Sales Drop and BlackBerry Can’t Catch a Break: Market Recap

The U.S. equity markets closed Friday on a mixed note as investors juggled a battery of economic data that did not paint an overall positive picture.

At the close: DJIA: +0.06%, S&P 500: -0.10%, NASDAQ: -0.21%.

On the commodities front, WTI crude oil (NYSEARCA:USO) fell 1.41 percent to $95.94 per barrel, catalyzed by industrial production data reported earlier in the day. The Federal Reserve reported that its total industrial production index contracted by 0.1 percent in January, below expectations for 0.2 percent growth. Brent crude dropped 0.13 percent to $117.85 per barrel.

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Gold (NYSEARCA:GLD) futures for April delivery, the most active contract, fell $26 to settle at $1,609.50 per ounce, while silver (NYSEARCA:SLV) futures for March dropped 50 cents to close at $29.85. It was gold’s lowest close in about six months. Both precious metals received heavy selling pressure as headlines hyped the disclosure that Soros Fund Management sold 720,400 shares of the SPDR Gold Trust during the fourth quarter. However, other funds are still keeping a large interest in gold… (Read more.)

Heavily influencing trading behavior on Friday was news that Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) is experiencing its weakest February sales start in seven years, a sign that economic headwinds and the expiration of the payroll tax holiday are taking a heavy toll on consumer spending behavior. The news, which circulated around 2:00 p.m., pulled Wal-Mart down 2.15 percent for the day, and helped catalyze a broader market sell-off.

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

For almost a decade, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has used a uniform system for input/output on all of its iPods and iPhones: the beloved 30 pin connector. Then, with an announcement of the pending iPhone 5, that all changed as fast as, well, Lightning. In September 2012, Apple announced plans to abandon the 30-pin system in favor of a smaller, more powerful, and sleeker-looking system. Named Lightning, the new plug poses some different issues for aftermarket hardware makers… (Read more.)

Burger King (NYSE:BKW) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results on Friday that had shares trading up as much as 4.1 percent. In need of some good news after sliding nearly 7 percent in the first two weeks of February, and with industry projections generally bleak for 2013, the burger maker served up results that showed substantially reduced costs and a strong game plan for the coming year… (Read more.)

Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) has announced that it will take a charge of $46 million as a direct result of a write-down they are performing on Blockbuster locations in England. According to Hollywood Reporter, the move comes after failing to find a buyer for the embattled video rental franchise.

blackberry1The news that former Research in Motion co-chief executive officer Jim Balsillie cut his last ties to the company now known as BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) hit the company’s stock like a strong uppercut to the jaw. On Thursday, it was revealed that as of December 31, Balsillie owned zero shares in the company, down from the 5.1 percent stake he had a year ago. Then on Friday, news circulated that Samsung (SSNLF.PK) had plans to reveal a new enterprise platform at the Mobile World Congress trade show later this month that will be highly competitive with the BlackBerry 10 operating system… (Read more.)

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Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) may be creating thousands of jobs, but many of the Internet retailer’s employees are less than happy with their positions. In Germany, a grim portrait of life at Amazon’s packing and distribution centers was revealed in a documentary that was broadcast on Wednesday by the television channel ARD… (Read more.)

Activist investor Carl Icahn delivered a Valentine to Bill Ackman that was worthy of a bloody massacre. The two billionaires recently gained attention for their epic feud on live television, but the investing world now realizes how serious Icahn is about sticking it to the Pershing Square founder. A filing made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed Icahn has bought more than 14 million shares of Herbalife (NYSE:HLF), the nutritional supplement marketer that Ackman believes is a pyramid scheme… (Read more.)

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