The stock markets in the United States were down today after experiencing gains over the past two days.

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The decline was caused by several factors including the weakness of equities in the energy sector and the growing concern that the stimulus plan of the European Central Bank (ECB). The markets were also negatively impacted by the drop of wages in the U.S.

In a telephone interview with Bloomberg, Walter Hellwig of BB&T Wealth Management commented. “The laundry list of investor worries is reasserting itself here— global growth concerns, how the ECB responds to what’s going on and the strong dollar.” He added, “We were looking for wage growth to increase, and the weaker-than-expected number was disappointing.”

Yesterday, speculations that central banks will continue to support economic growth pushed the markets higher. Over the past 2 days, the S&P 500 gained 2%.

[drizzle]Today, the stock prices of companies in the energy sector fell as oil prices dropped to its lowest level (below $48 a barrel) in more than five years. There is an increasing sign that the OPEC will not reduce its oil output despite the global oversupply. Brent dropped 4% while the West Texas Intermediate declined 3.3%.

Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst at the Price Futures Group  commented, “The price war continues and there’s a great deal of excess supply. The statements from the U.A.E. ambassador show that they’re doubling down and taking no prisoners. This will be a long fought war and they have the Saudis behind them.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 17,737.43 (-0.95%)
  • S&P 500- 2,044.87 (-0.84%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,704.07 (-0.68%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,189.02 (-0.59%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,042.90 (-2.94%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,501.14 (-1.05%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,648.50 (-1.92%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 17,197.73 (+0.18%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 28,919.95 (+0.35%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,546.72 (-0.35%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Bed Bath & Beyond declined more than 6% to $74.09 per share after the company reported a sales growth of 3.6% that missed its guidance of 3.9%. The company’s comparable-store sales growth of 1.7^ was also lower than the 2.8% expected by Wall Street analysts.  The company posted net earnings of $1.23 per diluted share on $2.865 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2014.

The shares of Starbucks declined more than 3% to $79.82 per share after its COO Troy Alstead decided to take an extended unpaid leave starting March 1, 2015.

Macy’s dropped more than 2% to $65.95 per share after disclosing its restructuring plan, which include closing14 stores and refocusing its efforts on its e-commerce business. The company expected to record $110 million in charges related to the store closures, restructuring plans and asset impairments in its financial results for the fourth quarter.

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