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The whipsaw action continues for the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) with its third-straight move of greater than 1%. Today, renewed commodity weakness, as well as the weight of the world again falling on Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) shoulders, helped push the market decisively lower.
Commodities continue to be a talking (and selling) point for investors, with oil falling another $2 and gold down modestly yet again. This could be on the heels of a Tuesday update from the International Monetary Fund, which lowered its global growth forecast to 3.3% this year, down from 3.5%. Slower growth could mean less oil and metal demand, which is weighing heavily on commodities as a whole.
The big drag today, however, was tech giant Apple, which dipped below $400 per share at one point because of a weak preliminary revenue figure from one of its suppliers, Cirrus Logic. Cirrus' preliminary revenue of $206.9 million in the fourth quarter came in modestly shy of the $210.2 million Wall Street had been looking for. But, more importantly, Cirrus gets about 70% of its revenue from Apple, so it could signify upcoming weakness in iPhone and iPad sales for Apple's upcoming second-quarter report.
Lumped together, this news made for another miserable day, with the S&P 500 falling 22.56 points (-1.43%) to close at 1,552.01. Weakness aside, three companies managed to outperform to the upside.
Leading the charge higher was discount retailer Dollar General (NYSE: DG ) , which advanced 2.8% on a very weak day following a reiteration of "buy" from TheStreet.com yesterday. Dollar General is the type of company that will benefit from higher taxes and delayed tax refunds because it offers shoppers a clearly defined discount and no-hassle price points. There's always a concern that food inflation could creep back into the picture and stifle margin growth, but for now everything appears to be working in its favor.
Coming in a close second was Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT ) , which rallied 2.4% after reporting its first-quarter results. For the quarter, net sales increased just shy of 2% to $5.38 billion as adjusted earnings rose 5% to $0.42 from $0.40 in the year-ago period. Revenue was about $30 million short of estimates, but EPS came in $0.01 above target, providing the impetus to send Abbott's shares higher. Perhaps the most intriguing factor from an optimists' perspective was that more than 40% of total sales came from fast-growing emerging markets during the quarter, giving the company ample opportunity to continue growing.
Finally, toy and game maker Mattel (NASDAQ: MAT ) added on 1.9% following better-than-expected first-quarter earnings results. For the quarter, revenue rose 7% to $995.6 million and EPS jumped by 450% to $0.11 -- a clean $0.02 ahead of the Street's expectations. The company's iconic Barbie and Fisher-Price brands' sales slumped once again, but its American Girl brand more than made up the difference with a 32% increase in sales to $100.5 million. With a current yield of 3.3%, there are plenty of reasons to take Mattel's growth quite seriously.
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