U.S. stocks open modestly lower following a strong start to the year on Tuesday that left the Dow Jones Industrial Average at a five-month high. The Dow fell 24 points on the open to 12,372. The S&P 500 declined 4 points to 1,272. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 13 points to 2,634. Most sectors are trading modestly lower this morning. The financials are leading the weakness this morning. It only took one day for the financials to regain their losing ways. Visa and MasterCard are lower on downgrades. A number of cloud computing techs are getting hit following lower guidance from Acme Packet last night. The stock is down 19% this morning. Salesforce.com is down 3.5% in sympathy. Red Hat was upgraded, but the stock is unchanged. The chip space is modestly higher. LSI Logic is up a percent on an upgrade. Intel is higher on a neutral rating. Yahoo finally named a new CEO, but investors are unimpressed. Progressive Software is down 7% after beating estimates last night by only a penny. That follows disappointing earnings from Oracle last month. The healthcare and consumer staples, two strong sectors last year, are trading lower this morning. The energy space is lower except for steel stocks. AK Steel and Steel Dynamic are higher by 2% on upgrades. Mosaic is lower on a downgrade ahead of earnings tonight. The best performing S&P 500 stock from 2011, Cabot Oil and Gas is higher by 2% after announcing a 2 for 1 split and hiking their dividend. Utilities are bouncing back after getting hit yesterday. Through the first hour the averages remained quiet and lower. The retail space is mixed this morning. Chipotle Mexican Grill and Lululemon are higher on upgrades. Autozone was named a Top Pick at a major brokerage firm, but the stock is lower. Ford and GM are higher on encouraging sales numbers. Through the morning and into the afternoon the averages improved with most sectors moving into the green. Ironically, the utilities sold off with the consumer staples and healthcare stocks. The techs were one of the first sectors to improve. Microsoft is perking up trading up 2.4%. Even the financials have turned around which is a nice surprise. In the last hour the Dow held on to gains as the other averages fizzled. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 21 points to 12,418, with 20 of 30 components ending higher. The S&P 500 gained 24 cents to 1,277. Consumer discretionary shares led sector gainers. The Nasdaq Composite lagged, falling 40 cents to 2,648.
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