The stock markets in the United States suffered another decline on Thursday. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) gained 5% on reports that it will be included in the S&P 500 after the market closes on December 20. Lululemon Athletica, Inc (NASDAQ:LULU) and Ciena Corporation (NASDAQ:CIEN) fell significantly.

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The U.S. stock markets declined again on Thursday as investors continue to weigh if the moderate pace of economic growth in the country will encourage the Federal Reserve to start tapering its $85 billion monthly stimulus.

The economic data released over the past few weeks were positive including the decline of the unemployment rate to 7% in November, and the growth of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) on an annual basis to 3.6% in the third quarter, the highest rate since 2012.

Today, data showed that the sales of the retail industry were better than expected for the month of November as consumers took advantage on the discounts offered by retailers for the holiday shopping season. Americans showed more optimism towards the economy given the fact that the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index climbed for the third consecutive week.

In a telephone interview with Bloomberg, Randy Bateman, chief investment officer at Huntington Asset Advisors in Columbus said, “We’ve had a lot of pretty good economic news lately and in the face of that data we’re seeing the market starting to digest the exuberance it has had in 2013. A lot of it might be in anticipation of the FOMC announcement next week and whether this good economic news is enough for the Fed to start its tapering process.”

On the other hand, John Carey, fund manager at Pioneer Investment Management opined that investors are speculating that the Federal Reserve could start tapering the stimulus earlier than expected. Economists previously predicted that the Fed would wait until February or March to begin reducing its monthly bond-buying activity.

U.S. Stock Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 15,740.40 (-0.65%)
  • S&P 500- 1,775.60 (-0.37%)
  • NASDAQ- 3,998.41(-0.13%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,105.90 (-0.40%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 2,928.12 (-0.65%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,445.25 (-0.96%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,017.11 (-0.66%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 15,341.82 (-1.12%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 23,218.12 (-0.51%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,410.01 (-1.11%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) gained 4.96% to $51.83 per share on reports that the social network giant will replace Teradyne, Inc (NYSE:TER) in the S&P 500 after trading hours on December 20. Facebook’s inclusion in the benchmark index demonstrates confidence in the future profitability of the company. Over the past 52-week range, the stock climbed from $22.67 to $54.83 a share. The company has a market capitalization of approximately $127 billion.

Lululemon Athletica Inc (NASDAQ:LULU) fell by 11.65% to $60.39 per share after the company estimated that its fourth quarter profit will be in the range of $0.78 to $0.80 per share, which is lower than the $0.84 earnings per share estimated by Wall Street analysts. According to the company, its sales performance was negatively affected by delays in new merchandise.

The stock value of Ciena Corporation (NASDAQ:CIEN) dropped nearly 7% to $21.31 per share after the company reported $0.16 adjusted earnings per share, lower than the $0.24 earnings per share expected by analysts.