The tech-stock-heavy Nasdaq led the market lower.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 16,299.9 (-31.1, -0.1%)
- S&P 500: 1,866.3 (-5.6, -0.3%)
- Nasdaq: 4,276.7 (-42.5, -0.9%)
And now the top stories:
- There was no major economic data released today. But certain sectors weighed on the market.
- Biotech stocks got smoked today. The House Energy & Commerce Committee sent a letter to Gilead Sciences asking the company to explain why its new hepatitis C drug costs $US84,000. Gilead fell 4%, and it was the second largest loser in the S&P 500. Other biotech stocks that fell sharply included Celgene, Biogen Idec, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Amgen.
- Software giant Symantec got crushed, falling by 13%. It was the biggest loser in the S&P 500. On Thursday afternoon, the company unexpectedly fired CEO Steve Bennett. According to the company, it was “the result of an ongoing deliberative process and not precipitated by any event or impropriety.” A special committee of the board will begin its search for a new CEO.
- Several Federal Reserve FOMC members spoke today including the Minneapolis Fed’s Narayana Kocherlakota, the lone dissenter in Wednesday’s FOMC decision. From his statement: “I dissented from the new guidance for two reasons. The first reason is that the new guidance weakens the credibility of the Committee’s commitment to target 2 per cent inflation. The second reason is that the new guidance fosters policy uncertainty and thereby suppresses economic activity. In what follows, I’ll elaborate on these reasons, discuss an alternative form of forward guidance, and conclude by strongly endorsing one aspect of the FOMC’s new forward guidance.”
- St. Louis Fed President James Bullard commented on Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s statement that the period between the end of quantitative easing and the first rate hike would be six months, a comment generated a negative response in the markets. “On the ‘considerable period’ being six months, the surveys that I had seen from the private sector had that kind of number penciled in,” he said during a lunch with journalists. “That wasn’t very different from what we had heard from financial markets. So, I just think she’s just repeating that.”
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