Market Focus

Intercept Pharmaceuticals

Drug maker Intercept Pharmaceuticals saw its shares almost quadruple in a matter of seconds today. One of its drugs, which treats a type of liver disease, was found effective in a mid-stage trial. This paves the way for it to become the first approved treatment for the condition. The stock rose 281 percent to $275.87. To put that move into perspective, the stock gained 203 points today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, an entire index, has gained that many points only three times in the past 3 months.

Ford

Shares of Ford were on the move today after the automaker raised it quarterly dividend by 25 percent. This is the second time in two years that Ford has increased its dividend. The company cited its strong financial condition as the reason for the hike. Shares rose almost two percent to $15.84.

Sears

A slew of retailers has bad news for investors. Sears reported a major loss after today’s market close. Sales fell a sharp nine percent during the holiday season, continuing the company’s long period of decline. Sears warned also warned investors of losses in the fourth quarter. Shares plunged in after-hours trading. During the regular session shares fell three percent to $42.57.

L Brands

Shares of L Brands also tumbled today. The parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works reported sluggish December Sales, which it blamed on heavy promotions. The retailer cut its earnings guidance because of that poor performance. The stock fell four percent to $57.75.

Pier 1

It was the same story at Pier 1. The home-furnishing retailer cut its full-year forecast after what it called extremely disappointing December sales. The company said winter weather was partly behind the weakness. The stock plunged 12 percent to $20.44.

Costco

Costco, on the other hand, broke the weak holiday mold. The wholesale club saw same-store sales jump three percent in December, beating estimates. The units that performed well were garden, apparel and home furnishing among others. Shares rose nearly four percent to $118.51.

Abercrombie & Fitch

Struggling teen retailer, Abercrombie & Fitch, boosted its full-year outlook. The company said holiday sales were higher than expected and they expect ongoing cost-reduction efforts to help results. Shares surged after hours. During the regular session, the stock was slightly higher to $33.21.

American Airlines & United Continental

Reports of strong December traffic helped lift shares of American Airlines and United Continental. Both airline operators benefited from a late Thanksgiving, which meant more passengers traveling for the holiday were flying in December, when the weekend ended. United was surprisingly helped by its cancelled flights in December, that’s because they squeezed the same number of passengers on fewer planes. United also said they are expecting fourth quarter traffic and capacity to increase. Shares of American Airlines were up 6.5% to $29.42. Shares of United Continental rose more than 6.5% to $43.80.

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