Mid-Afternoon Market Update: Vera Bradley Rises On Earnings Beat; Fred's Shares Plunge

Toward the end of trading Wednesday, the Dow traded up 0.01 percent to 24,182.48 while the NASDAQ declined 0.04 percent to 6,759.48. The S&P also fell, dropping 0.03 percent to 2,628.87.

Leading and Lagging Sectors

Wednesday afternoon, the utilities sector proved to be a source of strength for the market. Leading the sector was strength from TransAlta Corporation TAC 3.33% and NextEra Energy Partners, LP (NYSE: NEP).

In trading on Wednesday, energy shares fell 1.1 percent.

Top Headline

American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO) reported downbeat earnings for its third quarter, but issued a strong earnings forecast for the current quarter.

American Eagle posted quarterly earnings of $0.37 per share on revenue of $960 million. However, analysts expected earnings of $0.38 per share on revenue of $960.8 million.

American Eagle expects Q4 earnings of $0.42 to $0.44 per share, versus analysts’ estimates of $0.39 per share.

Equities Trading UP

Madrigal Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: MDGL) shares shot up 74 percent to $80.43 after the company disclosed that its MGL-3196 achieved primary endpoint in patients with biopsy-proven non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in Phase 2 clinical trial.

Shares of Vera Bradley, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRA) got a boost, shooting up 29 percent to $11.13 as the company posted better-than-expected Q3 earnings and raised its FY 2018 earnings guidance.

AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV) shares were also up, gaining 31 percent to $56.69 as the company reported stronger-than-expected earnings for its second quarter on Tuesday.

Equities Trading DOWN

Biocept Inc (NASDAQ: BIOC) shares dropped 34 percent to $0.76. Biocept priced its 4.93 million share offering at $0.68 per share.

Shares of Tronox Ltd (NYSE: TROX) were down 23 percent to $19.55. The FTC has challenged Tronox acquisition of Cristal’s titanium dioxide business. Tronox disclosed that it will fight FTC lawsuit seeking to block proposed acquisition of Saudi-owned Cristal.

Fred's, Inc. (NASDAQ: FRED) was down, falling around 21 percent to $4.07. Fred's reported downbeat Q3 results and cancelled its dividend.

Commodities

In commodity news, oil traded down 2.43 percent to $56.22 while gold traded up 0.14 percent to $1,266.70.

Silver traded down 0.49 percent Wednesday to $15.99, while copper rose 0.58 percent to $2.963.

Eurozone

European shares closed mostly lower today. The eurozone’s STOXX 600 fell 0.10 percent, the Spanish Ibex Index fell 0.27 percent, while Italy’s FTSE MIB Index dropped 0.49 percent. Meanwhile the German DAX slipped 0.38 percent, and the French CAC 40 dipped 0.02 percent while U.K. shares rose 0.28 percent.

Economics

Private-sector employers added 190,000 jobs for November, Automatic Data Processing Inc. reported. However, economists were expecting a gain of 185,000 private jobs.

U.S. nonfarm productivity rose 3 percent for the third quarter, versus economists’ expectations for a 3.3 percent growth. Unit labor costs declined 0.2 percent for the quarter.

Domestic crude supplies slipped 5.6 million barrels for the week ended December 1, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported. Analysts expected a drop of 4.1 million barrels. Gasoline stockpiles gained 6.8 million barrels, while distillate stockpiles rose 1.7 million barrels for the week.

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