Market Wrap: Stocks End Lower for 2nd Day After Rally

Financial Markets Wall Street

Richard Drew/AP

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks closed lower Wednesday for the second day in a row as investors stepped back after a recent rally ahead of jobs data due later in the week.

Health care stocks were the only bright spot in the market after a U.S. Supreme Court hearing and a cancer drug approval.

Equities had surged in February and both the Dow and S&P hit record highs Monday, when the Nasdaq surpassed the 5,000 level for the first time in 15 years.

We would not read anything into today’s pullback. The market had a terrific February.

“We would not read anything into today’s pullback. The market had a terrific February,” said David Katz, chief investment officer at Matrix Asset Advisors, in New York. “We suggest buying into any weakness.”

Many investors were holding off on making big bets ahead of a flurry of economic data due in the rest of the week, culminating with the Labor Department’s February payrolls report. The jobs report is viewed as a gauge for the timing of the first Federal Reserve interest rate hike in years.

The S&P 500 health care index, which has risen 5.75 percent since year-end, finished up 0.39 percent Wednesday as investors bet that the Supreme Court may lean toward the Obama administration’s view on the Affordable Care Act after the court heard a second major challenge to the law.

“I think that hearing assuaged fears — at least for now — that we were headed for overturning of Obamacare,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) shares surged 6 percent to $65.67 after U.S. health regulators approved its Opdivo treatment for lung cancer.

HCA Holdings (HCA) closed up 5.8 percent at $74.93 and Tenet Healthcare (THC) finished up 6.2 percent at $49.99.

Economic Expansion

The U.S. economy continued to expand across most regions and sectors from early January through mid-February, the Fed said Wednesday afternoon in its Beige Book report.

The ADP National Employment Report showed private employers added 212,000 jobs in February, short of the 220,000 forecast, although January’s reading was revised upward. Readings on the services sector from Markit and the Institute for Supply Management both pointed to modest growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 106.47 points, or 0.58 percent, to 18,096.9, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) lost 9.25 points, or 0.44 percent, to 2,098.53 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 12.76 points, or 0.26 percent, to 4,967.14.

About 6.34 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.52 billion average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,869 to 1,170, for a 1.60-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,586 issues fell and 1,118 advanced, for a 1.42-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 79 new highs and 50 new lows.


What to watch Thursday:

At 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims and fourth-quarter productivity data.
At 10 a.m., the Commerce Department releases factory orders for January and Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.

These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:

Costco (COST)
Kroger (KR)
Cooper Cos. (COO)
Paramount Group (PGRE)

In many parts of the U.S., May through August are when most couples chose to get married — and wedding vendors are happy to raise their prices to match the demand. If you live in an extremely warm area, peak months might include the early spring and late autumn, with an off-peak decline in summer.

If you chose an off-season month to host your wedding, you can enjoy some major discounts. You can even design your wedding around a new year’s or Valentine’s Day theme if you’re so inclined.

Saturday nights are the most-booked for weddings. Host your big day on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday and you can save even more.
1. Choose an off season or an off day

Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. You don’t need matching, engraved toasting glasses. You don’t need towering centerpieces full of lavish flowers. You don’t need anything at your wedding that you as a couple don’t feel you need.

The bridal industry will do its darndest — through magazines, websites and conventions — to convince you the proper wedding is made up of a ton of , all of which you’ll only use on this one day. Don’t listen to it. Only include the elements you want and let the rest go, no matter what anyone else might think about it.
2. Keep it simple

The reception halls, restaurants and country clubs that host weddings almost every weekend during peak season will charge high prices that reflect their popularity. Choose a less-frequented location and you’re likely to find prices that are more reasonable.

If you’re willing to pay for renting a tent, tables and chairs, you can host an outdoor wedding in your family’s backyard, at your favorite park or on the beach. Or you can explore offbeat options in your area, like the local botanical gardens or zoo, which often have on-site function rooms (and can serve as a one-of-a-kind backdrop).
3. Choose a nontraditional venue

Rather than buying a wedding gown off the rack, consider renting your gown or purchasing a used gown from a site like Craigslist or eBay, and using a portion of the savings to pay for dress alteration (to make it fit properly). You’ll only be wearing it once, anyway, so spending a ton of money really isn’t necessary.

If you’re a more alternative couple, you could do away with the standard gown altogether and opt for something different like a retro cocktail dress or a pretty white sundress, with simple linen suits for the guys in the bridal party.
4. Rethink your dress options

It’s your wedding, so it should only contain the people  really want to be there. Don’t worry about your parents’ friends or your grandmother’s hairdresser feeling slighted; keep your invitation list small and you’ll have a more meaningful, intimate wedding full of those you truly love — and for a cost your wallet will love.
5. Keep it small

If you’re crafty or you have creative friends and family, you can do practically anything for your wedding — the decorations, the cake, even the catering. Maybe you’ve got an artistic cousin who could serve as photographer. Maybe your coworker loves gardening and would be happy to make you some bouquets. Perhaps your amateur-baker friend would be happy to create a two-tiered wedding cake or an array of cupcakes.

These DIY touches cut your wedding costs dramatically — and they personalize your wedding to make it feel extra-special.
6. DIY it

There’s no rule that states that a wedding reception meal must consist of a four-course, sit-down dinner served by a wait staff. You can save a ton on catering costs by tweaking the traditional.

Family-style and buffet-style dinners are the most common ways of cutting costs on the meal, but you can be more original. If you’re having an early afternoon wedding, consider hosting a brunch with mimosas rather than an open bar. If you’re keeping it casual, serving appetizers and cocktails will encourage mingling and conversation. If you’re getting married in your parents’ backyard, you could even host an old-fashioned barbecue. Your food options are limited only by your creativity.
7. Tweak the menu

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