Stocks Open Firm But Reverse Lower On Fiscal Worries

By Donald H. Gold, Investor’s Business Daily

Stocks started on the upside Thursday but reversed lower amid mounting worries that a fiscal deal will remain elusive.

The Nasdaq, which had been up as much as 0.4% in the morning, fell 0.7%. Even so, its intraday worst of a 1% loss was pared in the final half-hour of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.6% and the S&P 500 dropped 0.5%.

Volume climbed on the Nasdaq but fell on the NYSE, according to preliminary data.

The market was buffeted, as it has been for weeks, by cross barbs between Republican House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama.

Shares of AstraZeneca (AZN) and its partner Rigel Pharmaceuticals (RIGL) tumbled after a trial report on their joint-venture rheumatoid arthritis drug failed to show it does any better than the traditional treatment, which is Abbott Labs’ (ABT) Humira. AstraZeneca fell 3% and Rigel crashed 33%.

Best Buy (BBY) shot up 16% on news that founder Richard Schulze wants to buy the firm for between $5 billion and $6 billion, according to published reports. The offer would be less than Shulze’s projections in August for a deal valued at up to $10.9 billion.

Generic-drug maker Perrigo (PRGO) followed the market’s lead, reversing lower from its early 4% gain to end off a fraction in double-paced trade. The stock has been consolidating since early October.

Mexican beverage maker Femsa (FMX) fell 1% in twice its average daily volume. The stock had recently cleared a 98.20 flat-base buy point before reversing course. It’s now 1% below that entry.

Ellie Mae (ELLI) dropped 2% in bone-dry trade. The mortgage software and services provider has been correcting since mid-September and is struggling to regain support at its 10-week moving average. Profit growth at the Phoenix-based company has ranged between 21% and 107% the past six quarters. Sales growth has picked up for five straight quarters, climbing 23% in the latest period.

CF Industries (CF) fell 3%, while Rentech Nitrogen Partners (RNF) lost 2% a day after Goldman Sachs said it sees more risk in the producers of nitrogen fertilizers due to weather-related planting delays. Both sliced through their 50-day line.

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