Stock market news today, Dec. 19: The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high today at 16,179.08 – its 46th record high of the year.
The Dow rose just 11.11 points or 0.1%, hardly noticeable after yesterday's 292-point rally following the Fed's taper announcement. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 1.05 points, or 0.1%, to 1,809.60, and the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 11.93 points to 4,058.13.
Today, investors have been focused on other economic influences, including disappointing unemployment claims data and a surprise decline in existing home sales. First-time unemployment claims rose to their highest level in nine months last week, rising to 379,000 from 369,000, while economists were expecting a decline of 32,000.
And the pace of home sales fell 4.3% last month to the slowest pace in about a year, according to data released today. That's the third month in a row of weaker home sales.
Metals stocks are sharply down today, driven by lower metals prices. Gold is on track to close at its lowest price in more than three years. Gold for February is down more than 3% in today's trade to just below $1,200 per ounce. And silver is also diving – with March silver down more than 4% to near $19.18 per ounce.
Among the major stocks movers in the news today, Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) stock is down about 2% today after the social media giant announced it would sell 70 million shares, about 1% of the company.
Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg himself is selling more than 41 million shares, saying he needs the funds to pay taxes, but the company will also use proceeds for "general corporate purposes."
And Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) shares are down about 10% today after it reported third-quarter earnings that met the Street view, but lowered its fiscal year guidance.
Rite Aid reported third-quarter revenue of $6.36 billion, up from $6.2 billion a year prior and net income of $0.04 per share, down from $0.07 per share a year ago.
Consumer Stocks: CCE, DRI on the Move
Rite Aid is among several large companies noting significant movements on news today. Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: CCE) is up about 1% today after it reaffirmed its guidance for fiscal 2013 and provided its guidance for fiscal 2014.
Coca-Cola Enterprises also approved a new share repurchase program today.
In other consumers news, Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) is down about 5% this session after it said it plans to spin off its Red Lobster chain. Darden also reported disappointing second-quarter results today.
Darden reported earnings of $0.15 per share, about $0.05 short of the Street view. For 2014, Darden expects earnings to decline between 15% and 20% from fiscal 2013.
Healthcare Sector News Today: PSDV, ALIM
Both company's stocks are soaring today – with PSDV up 37% and ALIM up more than 60% – after Alimera Sciences entered into labeling discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding Iluvien, an eye treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema.
As a result, no new clinical trials are needed in the approvals process. Alimera is pSivida's licensee for the drug.
We uncovered a share-price "spark" that will trigger big gains if you know where to invest… Get the full story here.