The Russell 2000 Index fell for a fifth day, losing 1.1 percent to 407.72 at 11:43 a.m. in New York. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index, whose companies have a median market value 22 times larger than the Russell 2000's, dropped 1.5 percent. The indexes have declined 47 percent and 46 percent, respectively, in 2008.
Ambac Financial Group Inc. (ABK US) surged 79 percent to $1.36 and earlier gained as much as 91 percent, the biggest intraday jump since at least January 1989. The second-largest bond insurer by outstanding guarantees agreed to pay $1 billion to cancel default protection on $3.5 billion of collateralized debt obligations, further freeing itself from the largest source of losses in its industry.
Amedisys Inc. (AMED US) tumbled 15 percent to $37.42 and earlier slid 24 percent for the biggest intraday loss since February 2006. The health-care provider was cut to ``hold'' from ``buy'' and had its price estimate lowered at Deutsche Bank AG, which said the company may need to increase its allowance for unpaid bills.
Brady Corp. (BRC US) dropped 16 percent to $17.32, and earlier fell 26 percent in the biggest intraday decline since December 1989. The maker of identification cards and signs lowered its 2009 profit forecast, citing currency-exchange rates and the economy. The company will cut 10 percent of its workforce.
Cyberonics Inc. (CYBX US) jumped 10 percent to $11.15 and earlier rallied 20 percent for the biggest intraday gain in two months. The maker of a nerve-stimulating device to treat epilepsy boosted its sales forecast. Second-quarter profit before some items exceeded analysts' average estimate by 87 percent, according to Bloomberg data.
Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. (EGLE US) lost 33 percent to $4.35 and earlier fell 37 percent in the biggest intraday slump since the stock went public in June 2005. The company whose vessels carry commodities such as coal and iron ore was cut to ``underweight'' from ``overweight'' at JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Gymboree Corp. (GYMB US) rose 22 percent to $20.16 and earlier advanced 23 percent for the biggest jump since September 2001. The children's-clothing maker said it earned $1.06 a share in the third quarter. That beat the average estimate of $1.03 from analysts in a Bloomberg survey. JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised the stock's rating to ``overweight'' from ``neutral.''
Media General Inc. (MEG US) lost 28 percent to $2.14, and earlier plunged 54 percent in the biggest intraday drop in two months. The owner of 24 daily newspapers and 19 television stations reported a 17 percent decline in October publishing revenue.
VeriFone Holdings Inc. (PAY US) slumped 55 percent to $2.77 and earlier lost 63 percent for the biggest intraday decline since the stock went public in April 2005. The largest maker of electronic-payment equipment said fourth-quarter profit trailed its forecasts because of ``uncertainty and turmoil'' in the economy and higher-than-expected foreign-exchange losses.
Wet Seal Inc. (WTSLA US) fell 7.6 percent to $2.08 and earlier lost 14 percent for the steepest intraday drop since Oct. 14. The apparel chain for teenage girls forecast fourth-quarter profit of 6 cents to 10 cents a share, less than the average analyst estimate of 13 cents, according to Bloomberg data.
Woodward Governor Co. (WGOV US) dropped 12 percent to $19.39, and earlier fell 28 percent in the biggest intraday retreat since at least April 1994. The maker of turbine, engine and electrical power systems forecast 2009 earnings of $1.65 to $1.90 a share, less than the average analyst estimate of $2.02, according to Bloomberg data.