In our interconnected world, the announcement that China's exports fell 18.1% in February was all it took this morning to put downward pressure on the major U.S. indexes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) lost 34 points on the day, or 0.21%, while the S&P 500 fell 0.05%. The Nasdaq was unchanged.
Within the Dow, shares of AT&T (NYSE:T) closed down 0.09%, after falling as much as 1.07% during the day. Investors were probably reacting to the news that AT&T is cutting its Shared Value Plan price from $80 to $65 per month for current customers who are no longer under a two year agreement and sign up for the new plan, or for new customers who pay full price for a phone. But as my colleague Travis Hoium explained earlier today, AT&T is essentially just changing the way it collects money from customers. I don't think shareholders have much to worry about from this move.
Outside the Dow, shares of Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) rose 0.43%, despite Friday's announcement of reduced earnings expectations. Blaming the weather, management cut its forecast from a range of $1.60 to $1.67 per share down to a range of $1.57 to $1.61. The company also sees revenue for stores open at least a year rising only 1.7% for the quarter, down from the previous estimate of 2% to 4%. Credit Suisse said earnings would have been in line with guidance if not for the weather, backing up management's assertions. Sometimes, things are just out of your control.
A big winner on the market today was Chiquita Brands (NYSE:CQB). Shares rose 10.7% this afternoon after the company announced a merger agreement with Dublin-based Fyffes. The new company will surpass Dole to become the world's largest banana company. The companies characterize the merger as a "strategy of survival," as big discount-driven retailers have put pressure on margins. The merger is likely to help for now, but as a way to survive it doesn't seem like the best long-term strategy. If trouble strikes again, there's really nowhere else to go: The new ChiquitaFyffes and Dole together will control more than half of the world's banana market.
Matt Thalman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Bed Bath & Beyond. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.