Stocks fell on Thursday as both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.16%) and S&P 500 (^GSPC -0.38%) indexes shed over 0.6%.

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Financial stocks led all indexes in popularity, as some of the biggest banks reported quarterly earnings. The sector trailed the broader market by a wide margin, though, resulting in a 1.3% drop for the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF -0.52%). Meanwhile, an increase in gold prices wasn't enough to keep the highly leveraged Direxion Daily Junior Gold Miners Bull 3X ETF (JNUG -2.83%) from falling 10.4%.

As for individual stocks, Wells Fargo (WFC 0.50%) and Pier 1 Imports (PIRRQ) declined as investors digested their latest quarterly earnings reports.

Tickers showing a mix of rising and declining stock price moves.

Image source: Getty Images.

Wells Fargo targets trust

Wells Fargo shares fell more than 3% in the wake of the banking giant's fiscal first-quarter results. The company earned $5.5 billion in the period, which translates to $1.00 per share, up from $0.99 per share in the year-ago period. Revenue ticked down to $22 billion from $22.2 billion a year ago. The sales figure came in just below consensus estimates, while profits were above expectations.

A bank teller gives change to a customer.

Image source: Getty Images.

Yet the results demonstrate that Wells Fargo still has its work cut out for it in terms of winning back its customers' trust following an account scandal that severely damaged the brand. Customer satisfaction and loyalty levels are lower than they were a year ago, but the company was encouraged to report that both figures ticked up during each month of the quarter. "Wells Fargo continued to make meaningful progress in the first quarter in rebuilding trust with customers and other important stakeholders, while producing solid financial results," CEO Tim Sloan said in a press release.

A few key financial wins included higher average deposits and improvements in both return on assets and return on equity when compared to the prior quarter. Those successes were offset by struggles elsewhere in the business, including a drop in the balance of average loans thanks to a slowdown in new credit accounts and a drop in auto loans.

Pier 1 Imports improves profitability

Shares of home furnishings specialist Pier 1 Imports slumped 9% after the company reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings results. The numbers showed flat sales over the key holiday period, but that was no big surprise to investors, as the retailer pre-announced many of its quarterly metrics in early March.

A few of the newly announced details showed solid operating trends, though. Pier 1 managed a 28% spike in e-commerce sales and, by relying much less on promotions and price cuts, succeeded in pushing gross profit margin higher by nearly 3 percentage points to 39.2% of sales.

As a result, the company hit the high end of its recently boosted profit guidance by earning $0.33 per share. "We are pleased to conclude the year with strong fourth quarter results," interim CEO Terry London said in a press release. "[W]e strengthened our top-line trend, highlighted by positive company comparable sales, improved merchandise margins, controlled operational costs and increased profitability," he added.

Still, management issued a forecast for the coming year that left some investors wanting more. The official projection calls for sales growth to be between 1% and 2% as merchandise margin stops at 58% of sales. Both figures would represent improvements over the prior year's result, given that Pier 1 logged a 1% comps decrease in fiscal 2017 as merchandise margin weighed in at 57.3%.