U.S. stocks fell on Thursday from record levels, led by energy shares, as Mario Draghi’s remarks on European Central Bank stimulus disappointed investors before a report on the American labour market. Seven of the 10 main industries in the S&P 500 declined. Industrials shares dropped 0.5%. Raw-material producers added 0.3% for the biggest gains. Energy companies slumped 0.8%, following three days of gains as oil slipped as much as 1.9%. Chevron slid 1.3%, the most in the Dow, and Exxon Mobil Corp. declined 0.6%. Sears Holdings Corp. decreased 4.4% after the department-store chain controlled by hedge fund manager Edward Lampert posted its 10th straight quarterly loss as sales continued to decline. Microsoft gained 1.6% as Barnes & Noble Inc. said it will buy back the company’s stake in its Nook business.
Japanese shares rose a sixth day today, with the Topix index extending a seven-year high, as exporters advanced after the yen weakened past 120 yen per dollar. Sony Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. each climbed 1.3% as electrical-appliance and auto makers provided the biggest boost to the Topix. GungHo Online Entertainment Inc. posted its biggest gain in more than 18 months after the company was said to be planning to announce next week that it will introduce its Puzzle & Dragons smartphone game in China. Sumco Corp. jumped 13% as the maker of silicon wafers recorded its biggest two-day gain since 2012.
European stocks fell after Mario Draghi said the European Central Bank will gauge the need for further stimulus early next year, quelling specu-lation the lender would start buying sovereign bonds soon. The ECB also lowered its forecasts for euro-area inflation and gross domestic product through 2016. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 1.3% at the close of trading. Banks, miners and energy shares posted the biggest declines on the Stoxx 600. Banco Santander SA lost 3.2% and BNP Paribas SA dropped 2.3%. Total SA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc fell more than 2%, while Rio Tinto Group and Anglo American Plc slid at least 2.5%. Among companies that moved on corporate earnings, Ryanair jumped 8.4% after raising its annual profit forecast for the third time this year. EasyJet gained 2.9% after saying the number of passengers increased in November from a year earlier. TUI Travel Plc added 3.6% after reporting that full-year underlying operating profit rose.
- Barnes & Noble Inc.
Barnes & Noble Inc. will buy back Microsoft Corp.’s stake in its struggling Nook business, which posted a loss that pulled down the U.S. bookstore chain’s second-quarter results. The separation of the business may be completed by the end of August, Barnes & Noble said in a statement. Barnes & Noble said the agreement will make it easier to split off the money-losing Nook division, a move pushed for by investors for years. The deal provides Microsoft with an exit from a struggling business as the software maker works to streamline its own operations. Barnes & Noble’s second-quarter net income fell to $12.3m, or $0.12 a share, from $13.2m, or $0.15, a year earlier. Sales declined 2.7% to $1.7bn. CEO Mike Huseby has tried to expand the stores’ offerings with toys, gifts and other non-book items to draw more shoppers and compete with Amazon.com Inc.
- Best Buy Co.
Best Buy Co. is exiting China as part of CEO Hubert Joly’s plan to focus on reviving the retailer’s U.S. stores. Jiayuan Group, a China-based real estate firm, will acquire Best Buy’s Five Star business and its 184 locations in China, the company said in a statement. The world’s largest electronics chain declined to provide terms, while also saying it didn’t expect the deal to have a material impact on results or cash flow.
- Sears Holdings Corp
Sears Holdings Corp. posted a wider third-quarter loss as CEO Edward Lampert works to reshape the department-store chain. The net loss widened to $548m, or $5.15 a share, from $534m, or $5.03 a share, a year earlier, the retailer said in a statement. Revenue in the three months ended Nov. 1 slid 13% to $7.21bn. Lampert, who’s also the retailer’s chairman and largest shareholder, has sold and spun off assets to raise cash amid more than three years of losses and 31 straight quarterly sales declines. The strategy to revive profitability entails shrinking the chain’s store base, including plans to close 235 locations this year, while boosting sales online and through its shopper-loyalty program. Sears said last month that it may raise money by selling and leasing back as many as 300 stores.
- EasyJet Plc
EasyJet Plc said that the number of passengers in November increased to 4.386m vs 4.256m from a year earlier. Easyjet’s November load factor was 89.5% vs 89.0% in November 2013.
- Ryanair Holdings Plc
Ryanair Holdings Plc upgraded its full-year profit goal for the third time this year, saying that any slowdown in the European economy could push people in its direction as efforts to attract business passengers pay off. Annual profit after tax for the 12 months to March 31 will be in the range of EUR 810m to EUR 830m, compared with EUR 750m to EUR 770m predicted just four weeks ago, Europe’s No. 1 discount carrier said in a statement today. The company also raised its full-year traffic target 1% to just over 90m.