Fear Index Jumps and US Indices Fall for Second Day (AIG, WMT)
Weak economic growth data weighed on both global and US markets on Thursday. In the US, investor concerns have grown as the CBOE Volatility Index, or the VIX, jumped 6.7%. Jobless claims increased for the first time in three weeks and business conditions were described as the lowest in eight months, casting doubt on the economy's current rate of growth. The euro fell to a six-week low against the dollar and oil prices also fell on poor euro zone business data. Wal-Mart ( WMT ) reported earnings that beat expectations but warned of slow sales in February. Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD ) slumped for the second day in a row and VeriFone Systems ( PAY ) also fell after being downgraded to a neutral rating. After the close Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ) released Q1 results and saw shares rise 5%. The March 1 deadline approaches for federal budget cuts, keeping investors on their toes and wondering what action the Federal Reserve will take in the near future. Word on the Street Weekly jobless claims show steady improvement and gain more than expected. The national median home sales price rises 12.3% in January to its highest since 2005. AIG ( AIG ) surpasses Apple ( AAPL ) and becomes the new hedge fund favorite . Stocks tumble on global economic growth concerns and the future of the Fed's stimulus program . Wal-Mart ( WMT ) reports higher profit but warns of stagnat sales during this quarter . Mortgage rates rise but remain near historic lows after three weeks. Interesting Tidbits How cost-effective and time-saving is your recruiting process? Tax tips on how to figure out your stock's cost basis and calculate your gains .