The S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) pulled back ever-so-gently from its record close yesterday, as a gauge of U.S. private sector employment came in below expectations. The ADP employment report, often considered an indicator for the Labor Deartment's monthly nonfarm payrolls report, showed soft jobs growth in February. That said, the Federal Reserve's "Beige Book," which is released eight times a year and details current economic conditions, blamed low economic growth in early 2014 on the weather. Let's hope it's the weather. Unsure whether to blame Mother Nature or accept the idea of a poor labor market, the S&P 500 finished sideways, losing 0.1 points, or 0.01%, to end at 1,873.
ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM ) shareholders had no trouble figuring out which way the stock should go today, sending shares down 2.8% in trade. Exxon committed to cutting costs this year, forecasting cost reductions that will run all the way through 2017. Cost reductions weren't behind today's slump, though -- lousy production rates were. Exxon's projected 2014 oil and natural gas production is expected to remain flat from last year; not only that but the company expects to drill in the Russian Arctic later in 2014, plans that could be put off if the U.S. imposes sanctions against Russia for its hostility toward Ukraine.
Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE: PXD ) , a Texas company that produces oil and natural gas, saw shares lose 2.8% on Wednesday. The loss is mostly attributable to the fact that Wednesday was an awful day to be in the oil and gas business -- the sector was the worst performing of the 10 market sectors. That's because the price of oil fell 1.8% as tension from the Russia-Ukraine conflict continued to subside; natural gas prices also fell 3% today. Natural gas's relative affordability due to the U.S. energy boom in recent years is one reason Exxon made the conscious decision to decrease its natural gas production in 2014, as it waits for the supply glut to disappear.
Lastly, shares of $21 billion generic pharmaceutical company Mylan (NASDAQ: MYL ) slipped 2.4% today. Pops and drops like today's are nothing out of the ordinary for Mylan investors, who -- when including last week's 9% jump after an exemplary earnings call -- have seen shares jump 80% in the last year alone. Mylan's gross margins in the fourth quarter were great at 51%, and revenue growth was driven by the company's partnership with Pfizer, in which Mylan markets the EpiPen, a product used to treat severe allergies. As for today's decline, it's nothing for investors to lose their heads over.
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