Biotechs drove the Nasdaq higher, driving the Composite closer to 5,000. But stocks mostly ended lower. Nordstrom fell after the bell. Fred Katayama reports.
The Nasdaq rose for the seventh straight session, driven by biotech stocks. The Composite getting closer to the 5,000 mark. But stocks mostly ended in the red zone amid uncertainty over the prospects for a Greek debt deal. Energy stocks led the fall on a sharp decline in oil prices. Crude oil dropped on oversupply concerns, pulling down shares of Exxon Mobil, Halliburton, and ConocoPhillips. After the bell, Nordstrom shares fell after the high-end retailer issued a weak outlook for the full year and its quarterly profit missed analysts estimates. Dragging down the Dow: Wal-Mart cut its sales outlook, blaming a stronger dollar. And the retailer, which is also America's largest private employer, said it would spend $1 billion to boost pay for its U.S. employees this year. The company's shares fell. Helping lift the Nasdaq: Priceline. It's quarterly profit beat Wall Street's expectations, but the online travel site's forecast for its first-quarter revenue came in below estimates, mainly due to volatility in foreign currencies. T-Mobile U.S.' quarterly profit and revenue handily beat estimates. The mobile carrier's aggressive discounts roped in more than 2 million subscribers. Subscriber additions also helped satellite operator DirecTV beat the Street. In the latest economic data, initial jobless claims fell more than expected in the latest week, a fresh sign that the labor market is improving. And a regional Federal Reserve survey showed growth in factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region decelerated in February to its slowest pace in a year. Europe's stock rally lost steam on Thursday after Germany rejected a new proposal from Athens for an extension of its bailout program. The markets over there closed mixed.