Stock Market Today: Dow Jones Industrial Average Plunges on Ukraine News

Stock market today, March 3, 2014: U.S. stocks today closed markedly lower amid increasing political tension in Ukraine and Russia, while safe-haven investments like gold rose on the crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.94%, or 154 points, at 16,168 points; the S&P 500 closed down 0.72%, or 31 points, at 4,277 points, and the Nasdaq Composite Index closed down 0.72%, or 31 points, at 4,277 points.

Stocks like EPAM Systems (NYSE: EPAM), which was down about 20% in today's session, were hit especially hard on the crisis abroad. EPAM Systems is a global IT company, one of many that is directly impacted by prolonged unrest in Russia, although the company said it has not yet had any interruption in business operations on the turmoil.

Stocks remained heavy despite fairly positive economic indicators like U.S. consumer spending and income rising in January over last year despite the impact of the severe weather this winter. Personal income was up 0.3%.

Metals futures rallied as investors fled to less risky investments today. Gold for April delivery settled up 2.2% at $1,350.30 per ounce in the highest closing price since Oct. 28. Silver traded up 1.2% to settle at $21.74 per ounce.

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Stock Market Today's Biggest Gainers

Among the top gainers today, Plug Power Inc. (Nasdaq: PLUG) was up 24% for much of the session after Cowen and Co. increased its price target on the stock to $5.50 per share from $5 per share.

Last week, Plug Power said it secured a contract from Wal-Mart Stores distribution centers, and Cowen analysts say they expect more similar contracts with other U.S. retailers.

Several healthcare companies are also making strides. NeuroMetrix Inc. (Nasdaq: NURO), a medical device company, was up 15% after it reported positive results from a study of the effectiveness of a treatment for diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

And, Array BioPharma Inc. (Nasdaq: AARY) shares were up about 4%, easing off a day high of $5.19 and trading in a 52-week range of $379 to $7.10 after it reported positive results from a study on its asthma treatment.

Stock Market Today's Biggest Losers

Among the stocks losing ground on reasons other than the crisis over Russia, Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) was about 5% lower today after it lowered its guidance for the third quarter, citing struggles maintaining customer traffic at its restaurants because of the severe weather this winter.

Darden, which runs Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse among other national chains, now expects $0.82 per share in earnings from continuing operations, well below the Street consensus of $0.94.

And, NewLink Genetics Corp. (Nasdaq: NLNK) was down about 10% today after Robert W. Baird downgraded the stock to Neutral from Outperform. The stock traded around $33.75.

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