Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) began the day up more than 100 points, the blue-chip index closed the session down 98 points. The big swing came as investors grew more nervous about tensions with Russia, as economic data points to a slowing U.S. economy and high-valuation stocks lose some of their luster.
While the ongoing issue in Ukraine probably won't lead to much more than political talks, the Census Bureau's durable-goods report this morning again indicated that that although the U.S. economy is growing, it is doing so at a snail's pace. The expected orders growth rate of 0.3% last month came in at an just 0.2%. As for the usual highfliers, Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, and Tesla all got hammered during the regular trading sessions today.
But there were a few shining stars on this down day. Shares of both DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV ) and DISH Network (NASDAQ: DISH ) rose 5.7% and 6.28%, respectively, on rumors that DISH Chairman Charlie Ergen contacted DirecTV CEO Mike White to discuss a merger. Both companies declined to comment, but this isn't the first time the topic has arisen. More than a decade ago the two attempted to merge, but the FCC nixed the deal, saying it would eliminate competition. That may no longer be a concern. A lot has changed within the industry since then, and satellite-radio leaders Sirius and XM Radio were allowed to merge in more recent years.
Another stock bouncing higher during regular trading hours was GameStop (NYSE: GME ) . Shares rose 2.94% as investors awaited the company's earnings report, scheduled for tomorrow before the opening bell. But in the after-hours session, the stock is down nearly the same amount. Analysts expect revenue to come in at $3.79 billion and earnings per share to hit $1.92. While the company may have performed well this past quarter, most investors probably care more about what management has to say about the future, especially now that Wal-Mart, as of today, is back in the used-video-game industry.
Another stock reversing course in the after-hours session is Paychex (NASDAQ: PAYX ) . Shares fell 1.3% during the regular trading hours but have climbed higher by 3.3% since the closing bell, following the company's earnings release. The payroll processing firm reported revenue of $636.5 million and earnings per share of $0.44, beating Wall Street expectations of $629 million and $0.42. Moving forward, management expects revenue to rise by 5% to 6%, while net income is forecasted to increase by 9% to 10%, up from previous expectations of 8% to 9% growth. Revenue guidance is in line with Wall Street's expectations, while most analysts were expecting EPS to increase by only 8% in 2014.
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