CHICAGO, April 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Stock Market Today report brought to you by Zacks Investment Research. On Thursday stock markets fell slightly after Japan was hit by another quake, reigniting fears about its nuclear power crisis. Additionally, oil prices rose above $110 per barrel but better than expected March chain-store sales kept losses in check.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 0.14% to end at 12,409.49. The S&P 500 was down 0.15%, or 2.03 points, to close at 1,333.51 and the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index also slipped 3.68 points or 0.13% to close at 2,796.14. On the New York Stock Exchange, NYSE Amex and Nasdaq, only 7.06 billion shares were traded compared with last year's estimated daily average of 8.47 billion shares. The fear gauge CBOE Volatility Index gained 1.2% to close at 17.11.
On the economic front, the Commerce Department said the number of people applying for jobless claims fellby 10,000 to 3,82,000. This was the third drop in four weeks and the decline in applications suggests layoffs are stopping. On Thursday, the Securities and Exchange Commission said that in case of a Federal government shutdown, only basic investor services will be available and the SEC will function with "an extremely limited number of staff". The SEC also said it will continue to investigate fraud and securities violations. Oil prices rose above $110 a barrel in the afternoon, the highest level since September 2008.
Meanwhile, a day after Portugal asked for a bailout, the European Central Bank hiked its interest rate from 1% to 1.25%. However, the Bank of England voted to keep its interest rate at a record low of 0.5%. Like the Fed, both banks had kept interest rates low during the financial crisis and recession to spur economic activity. European markets also fell reacting to the news of Japan's quake with both London's FTSE and Germany's DAX falling 0.6% and 0.5% respectively.
Moving on to sectoral news, departmental store sales for March fell less than expected as a late Easter, cool temperatures and high gas prices did not hurt results, as expected by analysts. Sales figures of department stores were badly hit during the recession as buyers and customers sought bargains. High-end department stores continued to perform the best, with Nordstrom and Saks reporting higher revenue. Revenue for Saks (NYSE:SKS) from stores open for at least one year rose 11.1% , higher than the 0.8% gain expected by analysts. Nordstrom Inc.'s (NYSE:JWN) share prices increased by 0.71 cents to close at $46.61 after revenue figures rocketed 5.1% higher than analyst's expectations.
Coming to earnings news, shares of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc (NASDAQ:BBBY) rocketed 10.5% after the company reported better than expected fourth quarter earnings results, beating the Street's expectations. Wine and spirits maker Constellation Brand's (NYSE:STZ) shares gained 6.92% to close at $21.79 after the company reported its earnings results beating expectations. Shares of Limited Brands Inc (NYSE:LTD) increased 1.62% to $35.80 after the company reported higher revenue figures because of strong sales of its Victoria's Secret Stores which surged by 14%. Costco Wholesale Corp's (NASDAQ:COST) share prices increased 4% after the company reported its sales figures had increased 13%. Share prices of Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR) increased 10.53% after the company reported its earnings results.
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