April 3 - Summary: Investors once again sold their tech winners, restraining buying ahead of Friday's employment report and cheating the Dow from a closing high; Barnes & Noble slumps as major investor dumps. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Stocks pull back after the Dow and S&P 500 touch lifetime highs and investors get ready for Friday's employment report. But investors are still pocketing gains from some of last year's big tech winners and that is pressuring the market overall. Just look at these names - Facebook, Adobe, Trip Advisor, Expedia, Netflix - all among the biggest drags on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. Bigger picture - The market is expecting the addition of 200,000 new jobs in March when jobs data are released Friday, with the unemployment rate dipping to 6.6 percent. Ahead of that, weekly jobless claims ticked higher last week... And the services sector bounced back in March after hitting a four-year low the month before that. U.S. exports slumped to a five-month low in February, which could cut into first quarter economic growth. But Beth Ann Bovino of Standard and Poor's is confident the economy is on the right road. SOUNDBITE: BETH ANN BOVINO, U.S. CHIEF ECONOMIST, STANDARD AND POOR'S (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Through the winter weather I had been saying that this was not a cancellation of the recovery, only a delay. We think that 2014 is going to be strong. We are looking for about 2.8 percent growth in 2014 and a lot of the drag is early on because of the weather but we do expect the second-half of the year to actually pick up." On the corporate front: Barnes & Noble has lost the confidence of one of its major investors. The bookseller - losing John Malone's Liberty Media, which is dumping nearly all of its stake. Shares of Barnes & Noble tumbling 13-1/2 percent. Another downer - Citigroup. The bank is facing a criminal probe, according to a source, into a $400 million fraud tied to its Mexican subsidiary. Shares ended down by more than one percent. Stocks across Europe finished little changed despite European Central Bank Chief Mario Draghi's pledge to fight even the risk of deflation.