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What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Demitri Kalogeropoulos – Nov 18, 2016 at 5:33PM

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Why and Gap stocks stood out as indexes fell on Friday.

Image source: Getty Images.

Stocks declined on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.75%) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.90%) indexes both dropping by roughly 0.25%.

Today's stock market:


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Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Gold prices slipped as the dollar marched higher on rising expectations that interest rates are headed up. These trends combined to produce declines in the volatile Direxion Daily Gold Miners Bull 3X ETF (NUGT -7.32%) and the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX -3.75%).

As for individual stocks, (CRM 0.53%) and Gap (GPS 3.56%) made headlines with unusually large moves following their quarterly earnings announcements.

Salesforce keeps rolling

Cloud computing titan Salesforce added 3% after announcing strong quarterly results and issuing an aggressive growth projection for the year ahead. Revenue jumped 25% over the past three months to keep pace with the prior quarter's healthy expansion rate. The company got help from a few large contracts, and in fact closed a record number of major client deals.

"No other enterprise software company is delivering customer success at this scale -- and certainly not at this pace," Chief Operating Officer Keith Block said in a press release.

Image source: Getty Images.

Salesforce booked a slight increase in red ink as net loss increase to $27 million from $25 million last year. Gross profit margin also declined to 73% from 75% in the year-ago period thanks to rising costs on both the services and subscription sides of the business. On a non-GAAP basis, though, earnings rose 14% to $0.24 per share, beating consensus estimates by $0.03 per share.

Management believes it can keep the solid growth momentum going into the next quarter and beyond. Salesforce projected a 25% sales bounce for fiscal Q4 and forecast that annual revenue will cross $10 billion for the first time in the coming fiscal year, which would mark just a minor slowdown from this year's expected 21% improvement.

Gap stumbles into the holiday season

Gap shares sank 17% as investors reacted to a mixed quarterly earnings report ahead of the critical holiday shopping season. On one hand, the business continues to struggle with weak customer traffic trends. Its namesake brand posted a 4% comparable-store sales decline to mark a slight worsening from the prior quarter's 3% dip. Banana Republic improved a bit, but comps still fell 6%.

Image source: Getty Images.

The good news for the business is that Old Navy swung to a 4% comps increase after posting flat growth in the prior quarter. Success with that brand also helped overall profitability expand. Gross profit margin improved to 39% of sales from 37% last year.

"I'm pleased to see improved product across our brands, as well as areas of healthier merchandise margins, even against the backdrop of challenging traffic trends during the quarter," CEO Art Peck said in a press release.

Gap appears to be in a healthy inventory position heading into the fourth-quarter sales crush, which lessens the risk that it will need to take a big earnings hit if sales don't proceed as planned. Yet its mixed traffic performance doesn't give investors much confidence that it can protect market share as competition heats up over the next six weeks.

Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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