The stock markets in the United States fluctuated and eventually ended the trading session down today. The earlier declines of the stock markets were trimmed by the predictions of Byron Wien, vice chairman of advisory services unit at Blackstone Group LP (NYSE:BX), that the economy will grow by more than 3% this year. Wien also projected that the S&P 500 will experience a sharp correction, but it will gain by approximately 20% in 2014.

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On the other hand,  Richard Sichel, chief investment officer at Philadelphia Trust Co. commented in a telephone interview with Bloomberg that Wien’s forecast had little impact on the stock markets. According to him, “It’s a relatively quiet news day, so a relatively bullish forecast by a respected strategist didn’t hurt at all today, and may have helped. Sichel added, “There’s still good values out there. With reasonable price-earnings ratios, we think that people should be investing.”

Donald Selkin, market strategist at National Securities Corp opined that there is no significant news today its just “noise back and forth, up a little down a little.” He believed that the stock markets will move sided ways until investors see the minutes of the meeting of the Federal Reserve and the jobs report on Friday.

Meanwhile, data from the Institute of Supply Management showed that the non-manufacturing index declined from 53.9 to 53 points in December. The figure is lower than than 54.7 points median estimate of 69 economists polled by Bloomberg.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 16,425.10 (-0.27%)
  • S&P 500- 1,826.77 (-0.25%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,113.68 (-0.44%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,147.80 (-0.72%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,069.16 (-0.17%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,730.73 (0.00%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,428.00 (-0.08%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 15,908.88 (-2.35%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 22,684.15 (-0.58%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,238.64 (-2.28%)

 Stocks in Focus                

The stock price of Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) plunged almost 4% to $66.52 per share after Morgan Stanley analyst Scott Devitt lowered his rating for the stock to Underweight, which is equivalent to a Sell rating. According to him, Twitter is at risk of remaining a “niche product” even if its platform is compelling for social networking.

In a note to investors, Devitt wrote, “Despite the ease at which users can sign up for Twitter, we think it is inherently more complicated to understand how to get the most out of Twitter compared to Facebook’s service, which is easier to use.”

The shares of Sirius XM Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:SIRI) rose more than 7% to $3.83 per share after Liberty Media Corp (NASDAQ:LMCA) announced its plan to take full control of the internet radio service provider. The media conglomerate is already a majority owner of Sirius XM and proposed to acquire all the remaining shares it does not yet own in an all-stock transaction worth around $10 billion. Liberty Media proposed to convert each share of the common stock of Sirius XM into 0.0760 of a new share of Liberty Media’s Series C common stock.

The stock value of Whole Foods Market, Inc (NYSE:WFM) dropped 3.54% to $54.30 per share after Philip Terpolilli, analyst at Longbow Research LLC projected that the profit margin of the company might decline as it increases discounts amid stronger competition.