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At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 267 points to finish at 16,169.90. The Nasdaq fell 129 points to finish at 4,054.11, while the S&P 500 dropped 39 points to 1,833.09.
Markets plunged on Thursday despite positive economic data on unemployment benefits. The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits has fallen to its lowest level in almost seven years. The Nasdaq had its worst day since 2012 as biotech and online firms slumped the hardest.
Here's a recap of other major events moving the Dow Jones today:
- Make Up Your Mind: Activist investor Carl Icahn ended his push for eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) to spin off its highly profitable PayPal division on Thursday. In addition, he has withdrawn two nominations to the company board. However, Icahn does plan on remaining very involved in the company and will keep pressure on its board and executives. The company announced that it has finally settled its proxy battle with Icahn, ahead of its annual shareholder meeting in May. Shares of eBay slipped by as much as 2.7% on Thursday. For the full story on this comical turn in the Icahn-eBay battle, read our coverage here.
- Keystone Pipeline Chatter: A group of 11 U.S. Senate Democrats have urged U.S. President Barack Obama to make a final decision on the Keystone XL pipeline by May 31. Calling the process (which has lasted six years) "exhaustive," the senators pressed Obama to end the long-winded consideration and approve the Keystone pipeline owned by TransCanada Corp. (NYSE: TRP). The list of Senate Democrats includes Mary Landrieu (D-LA) Mark Begich (D-AK), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Mark Warner (D-VA), all of whom are up for re-election this fall and face highly contested races this fall.
- Greece Roars in Return: Investors made €20 billion ($27.7 billion) in bond orders for Greece's €3 billion five-year bond on Thursday, resulting in a final yield of 4.95%. The Wall Street Journal called this a "remarkable result" for a nation that restructured its debts just two years ago. The drop in the final yield from an expected level of 5.25% to 5.5% showed the level of enthusiasm that investors have for Greek debt, given their willingness to give up a lot of money in possible gains at the time of the purchase.
- Stay Away: As we noted this morning, the largest IPO of the year was looking like a dog before it even debuted. Shares of auto-lender Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) slipped by 3.84% in afternoon trading after making its debut today. The auto-loan company was once the finance arm of General Motors (NYSE: GM) before the 2008-2009 financial crisis that saw the government overtake the company. The U.S. Treasury Department raised more than $2.3 billion by selling off its 37% stake in the company. Here's the full story on why investors would be better off avoiding ALLY stock.
- Late Night Battles Heat Up: In a surprising announcement, CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) has tapped comedian Stephen Colbert to succeed David Letterman as host of "The Late Show" in 2015. Colbert has won several Emmys as the host of The Colbert Report on Viacom's (Nasdaq: VIAB) Comedy Central. Colbert signed a five-year deal to replace Letterman, who will retire next year after 21 years with the network. Some media analysts view the deal as a "gamble" by CBS, given that Colbert's Comedy Central show has centered on a "faux" character and places greater focus on political satire than standup comedy.
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Thursday's Top Three Profit Opportunities
- Finding the True Winners in the IPO Market: It's been a very busy year for IPOs, with billions of dollars flowing into new public companies. But you should step back before you jump into that next social media or gaming stock that's all over the television. Instead, you should take Sid Riggs' advice and use this secret strategy to cash in on huge IPO profits for the years ahead…
- Double-Digit (or More) Profits in This Market Are About to Rocket: Change can be disrupting… but it can also – in this case – be hugely profitable. The new commodity kid on the block is very controversial. But it's also going to be very profitable, and you'd be foolish not to take part in an industry that will go from a black market to a legal, $100 billion industry in the coming years…
- Our Man in Japan Shares a Soros-Beating Move: Bill Patalon can't think of any Westerner with a better handle on Japan-related investment opportunities than our Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald. And Keith just shared a big, big opportunity for investors looking to exploit a recent decision by the Japanese government. You could make a nice little profit when the country's currency declines…