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Mid-Morning Market Update: Markets Open Lower; Deere Lowers FY15 Forecast

Mid-Morning Market Update: Markets Open Lower; Deere Lowers FY15 Forecast

Following the market opening Friday, the Dow traded down 0.55 percent to 17,886.14 while the NASDAQ slipped 0.37 percent to 4,906.44. The S&P also fell, dropping 0.54 percent to 2,086.06.

Leading and Lagging Sectors

In trading on Friday, healthcare shares slipped by just 0.2 percent. Meanwhile, top gainers in the sector included MEI Pharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: MEIP), up 8 percent, and AMN Healthcare Services Inc. (NYSE: AHS), up 8 percent.

Non-cyclical consumer goods & services shares fell by 0.7 percent on Friday. Top losers in the sector included MGP Ingredients Inc. (NASDAQ: MGPI), down 5 percent, Avon Products Inc. (NYSE: AVP), off 4 percent.

Top Headline

Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) reported stronger-than-expected earnings for the fiscal first quarter. However, the company cut its equipment sales forecast for fiscal 2015.

The Moline, Illinois-based company posted quarterly earnings of $386.8 million, or $1.12 per share, compared to $681.1 million, or $1.81 per share, in the year-ago quarter. However, analysts were expecting earnings of $0.83 per share. Its equipment sales shrank 19% to $5.61 billion, versus analysts’ estimates of $5.53 billion.

For the year, Deere now projects equipment sales to decline 17% year-over-year, versus its earlier forecast of a 15% drop. The company now expects FY15 net income of about $1.8 billion.

Equities Trading UP

inContact, Inc. (NASDAQ: SAAS) shares shot up 14 percent to $11.14 after the company reported a narrower-than-expected Q4 loss. Benchmark upgraded inContact from Hold to Buy and raised the price target from $9.00 to $11.00.

Shares of Arista Networks, Inc. (NYSE: ANET) got a boost, shooting up 6 percent to $72.39 after the company reported better-than-expected Q4 results.

Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU) shares were also up, gaining 5 percent to $95.36 after the company announced a narrower-than-expected loss for the second quarter.

Equities Trading DOWN

Noodles & Company (NASDAQ: NDLS) shares tumbled 28 percent to $19.95 after the company reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter results and issued a weak 2015 profit forecast. Baird downgraded Noodles from Outperform to Neutral and lowered the price target from $31.00 to $21.00.

Shares of Rocket Fuel Inc. (NASDAQ: FUEL) were down 26 percent to $10.90. Rocket Fuel reported a Q4 loss of $0.18 per share on revenue of $139.5 million. Oppenheimer downgraded Rocket Fuel from Outperform to Perform.

Acacia Research Corporation (NASDAQ: ACTG) was down, falling 12 percent to $11.70 after the company reported weaker-than-expected Q4 results.


In commodity news, oil traded up 0.43 percent to $51.38, while gold traded up 0.16 percent to $1,209.50.

Silver traded down 0.07 percent Friday to $16.37, while copper fell 1.38 percent to $2.58.


European shares were mostly lower today. The eurozone’s STOXX 600 rose 0.01 percent, the Spanish Ibex Index slipped 0.88 percent, while Italy’s FTSE MIB Index slipped 0.43 percent. Meanwhile, the German DAX dropped 0.07 percent, and the French CAC 40 fell 0.71 percent while UK shares rose 0.18 percent.


The flash reading of the Markit manufacturing PMI rose to 54.30 in February, versus a prior reading of 53.90. However, economists were expecting a reading of 53.60.


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