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Despite a slow morning, stocks battled back to finish the day nearly unchanged, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) closed down 5 points or 0.03%, coming back from a 100-point deficit earlier in the day. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq, meanwhile, lost 0.2% and 0.5%, respectively. The day's economic reports were mostly in line with expectations, as an ISM Services report rated last month's growth in the category at 54.0, indicating a modest expansion, while the ADP's employment report said 175,000 jobs were added in January, even with expectations for the official report due out on Friday. Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart also said earlier in the day that he expects the stimulus taper to continue in increments of $10 billion as it's begun and that it should be completed by the fourth quarter. The comments may have shaken investors, as the Dow has already fallen 6% this year, and investors may have been expecting the Fed to make adjustments according to market behavior.
Elsewhere on the stock front, some major news rocked the beverage industry after hours today, as Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ: GMCR ) said that it had entered into a long-term global strategic partnership with Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) , the world's largest beverage company. The news shocked the market, sending Green Mountain shares up as much as 55% and Coke shares up 2%. According to the agreement, Coca-Cola will make its brand portfolio available for the forthcoming Keurig Cold brewing system, and will put its marketing muscle behind the new soda-making machine, in whose success Coke now has its own vested interest. As part of the deal, Coke also took a 10% stake in Green Mountain for the cost of $1.25 billion, or $74.98 a share. The deal opens up a world of possibilities for the two companies, but it may be an odd move for a traditional competitor like Coke, considering that the Keurig Cold is not yet on the market and won't be available until 2015. Left out in the cold was rival SodaStream International (NASDAQ: SODA ) , maker of the leading at-home soda machine, whose shares fell 7% on the news. The development could, however, prompt PepsiCo or another soda-maker to partner with SodaStream in order to fight the Green Mountain/Coke alliance. In its earnings report, Green Mountain said per-share earnings came in at $0.96, beating estimates of $0.90, though revenue grew just 4% to $1.39 billion, falling short of expectations.
Also making news after hours was Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ) , which has been a market darling since its November IPO but fell sharply in its first report as a public company, with shares trading down 18% at the time of writing. Investors seemed concerned by sluggish user growth and flagging timeline views. Twitter said it averaged 241 million users in the quarter, just a 4% sequential bump, and timeline views actually fell sequentially for the first time, going from 159 billion to 148 billion. Those page views are what Twitter needs to sell ads. Those developments were enough to send the stock tumbling even though revenue jumped 116% to $242.7 million, well ahead of estimates at $217.8 million, and adjusted earnings came in at $0.02 a share, better than the $0.02-loss expected. With a sky-high valuation, the Twitter thesis is all about the future, and if page views aren't growing, the microblogging site could be in trouble.
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