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Citigroup, DryShips, Las Vegas Sands, Nucor: U.S. Equity Movers

Shares of the following companies had unusual fluctuations in U.S. trading. Stock symbols are in parentheses, and prices are as of 4 p.m. in New York.

Financial companies rallied after Citigroup Inc. (C US) Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit said his bank is having the best quarter since 2007, when it last posted a profit. The Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF US), an exchange-traded fund tracking the industry, gained 15 percent to $7.19.

Citigroup rose 38 percent to $1.45. Bank of America Corp. (BAC US) added 28 percent to $4.79. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM US) climbed 23 percent to $19.50. Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC US) advanced 18 percent to $11.81. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS US) increased 15 percent to $85.28. Morgan Stanley (MS US) rose 26 percent to $20.84. U.S. Bancorp (USB US) gained 12 percent to $11.40.

Gold producers fell as the precious metal declined for a second day in London as a gain in equities may reduce demand for bullion as an alternative investment.

Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM US) had the second-biggest loss in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, slipping 7.3 percent to $35.03. Kinross Gold Corp. (KGC US) lost 7.5 percent to $14.51. Yamana Gold Inc. (AUY US) declined 9.6 percent to $7.55.

Shipping companies advanced as rates rose for an eighth day, boosted by demand for agricultural goods. The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of transport costs for commodities across different shipping routes and vessel classes, rose 1.6 percent to the highest since Oct. 9.

DryShips Inc. (DRYS US) gained 13 percent to $4.57. Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd. (GNK US) climbed 9.7 percent to $14.08. Diana Shipping Inc. (DSX US) added 9.3 percent to $13.53. Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd. (EXM US) advanced 9.7 percent to $4.43.

AeroVironment Inc. (AVAV US) sank 34 percent to $20.30, the most since its initial public offering in January 2007. The maker of U.S. military spyplanes reported fiscal third-quarter profit of 21 cents a share, missing the average analyst estimate by 23 percent.

AmeriCredit Corp. (ACF US) rose 21 percent to $4.47, the highest price since Feb. 18. The company, which provides loans to car buyers with blemished credit records, said lenders reduced the size of its revolving credit line and increased the interest rate in exchange for relaxed terms on the debt.

Apple Inc. (AAPL US) climbed 6.6 percent to $88.63, the biggest gain since Jan. 22. The maker of Macintosh computers and the iPhone plans to introduce a touch-screen netbook computer as early as the second half of this year, Dow Jones Newswires reported. The move could give the company a sales boost as demand for desktops slows.

Boeing Co. (BA US) rose 6.5 percent, the most since Dec. 16, to $33.01. The second-largest commercial-plane maker reaffirmed its plans to fly the 787 Dreamliner for the first time in the second quarter and deliver the plane in the first three months of 2010.

Brown-Forman Corp. (BF/B US) had the biggest decline in the S&P 500, losing 9.9 percent to $37. The maker of Jack Daniel’s and Southern Comfort reduced its full-year earnings forecast to $2.90 a share at most, less than the $2.99 average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Casey’s General Stores Inc. (CASY US) climbed 27 percent to $23.99, the steepest gain since it went public in October 1983. The owner of convenience stores in the Midwest reported profit excluding some items of 28 cents a share in the third quarter, topping the average analyst estimate by 49 percent.

Charlotte Russe Holding Inc. (CHIC US) rose 17 percent to $6.47, the largest gain since Nov. 12. The retailer of clothing for young women has put itself up for sale, the New York Times reported on its Dealbook blog, citing an unidentified person familiar with the matter. The retailer has hired Cowen & Co. as its financial adviser, the Times said.

Comtech Telecommunications Corp. (CMTL US) fell the most in Russell 2000 Index, slumping 37 percent to $22.48. The provider of mobile-data communications equipment to the U.S. Army reported revenue of $143.9 million in the fiscal second quarter, missing the average analyst estimate by 4.6 percent.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. (DPS US) rose the most since Oct. 28, gaining 13 percent to $13.42. The drinks maker was raised to “buy” from “neutral” at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which said “the recent sell-off has created an attractive entry point.”

Gaylord Entertainment Co. (GET US) rose 21 percent to $5.92, the steepest gain since Dec. 8. The owner of the Grand Ole Opry music hall was raised to “outperform” from “market perform” by analyst Jeffrey Donnelly at Wachovia Capital Markets LLC.

Investment Technology Group Inc. (ITG US) rose 17 percent to $19.89, the biggest gain since Sept. 19. The owner of the oldest electronic block-trading systems was boosted to “neutral” from “sell” at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Johnson Controls Inc. (JCI US) fell 6.9 percent to $8.95, the lowest price since December 2000. The largest maker of automotive seats said it plans to sell 8 million equity units with an initial amount of $50 per unit, or $400 million, and $100 million in convertible senior notes due 2012 for a total of $500 million.

Kohl’s Corp. (KSS US) rose 10 percent to $37, the biggest gain since Nov. 24. The fourth-largest U.S. department-store chain was raised to “buy” from “neutral” at Bank of America Corp., which said the “stock drop and achievable guidance give us comfort.”

Kroger Co. (KR US) gained 10 percent to $21.44, the steepest advance since February 1994. The biggest U.S. grocery chain reported record unit sales for its store brands.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS US) rose 17 percent to $1.66, erasing more than half its decline yesterday following the departure of William Weidner as president. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s casino company had occupancy of 93 percent in February and is “not going to hell in a handbasket,” Adelson said at a conference.

Nucor Corp. (NUE US) led a rally in steelmakers, gaining 16 percent to $36.57. The largest U.S. steelmaker by market value was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” by UBS AG analyst Timna Tanners. Nucor “is the most defensive” company in the group “and can outperform in a downturn,” Tanners wrote in a report today.

Office Depot Inc. (ODP US) rallied the most in the S&P 500, rising 56 percent to 92 cents. The second-largest office- supplies retailer said sales in older stores are better than last quarter.

Oshkosh Corp. (OSK US) surged 22 percent to $6.08, the most since Nov. 26. The Wisconsin-based maker of military trucks won lender approval to amend its credit agreement and increase its leverage ratio.

Palm Inc. (PALM US) rose 15 percent to $6.92, the biggest gain since Jan. 15. The maker of the Treo and Centro mobile phones, which is readying a touch-screen phone called the Pre, boosted its public offering of shares to 23.1 million from 18.5 million.

Rambus Inc. (RMBS US) gained the most since Feb. 24, rising 11 percent to $8.77. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. (000660 KS) will pay Rambus $397 million in additional damages under an agreement from the companies’ patent infringement suit in California.

RSC Holdings Inc. (RRR US) gained 20 percent to $4.87, the biggest rise since Dec. 8. The equipment rental company was raised to “buy” from “neutral” by analyst Henry Kirn at UBS AG.

Suntech Power Holdings Co. American depositary receipts (STP US) climbed 21 percent to $6.38. Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Jeff Osborne upgraded China’s largest maker of solar-power modules to “market weight” from “underweight.” The 42 percent drop in the company’s shares from Feb. 17 through yesterday adequately discounted the risk to the company’s profit targets, Osborne wrote in a report dated March 9.

Texas Instruments Inc. (TXN US) rose 6.6 percent to $15.66, the biggest gain since Oct. 28. The second-largest U.S. chipmaker predicted first-quarter sales that met analysts’ estimates after demand improved for wireless-equipment chips in China.

United Technologies Corp. (UTX US) rose 8.6 percent to $40.79, the most since Oct. 28. The maker of Otis elevators and Carrier air conditioners plans to cut 11,600 jobs as a global recession and credit crunch lead to lower sales and profit than previously projected.

Whirlpool Corp. (WHR US) rose 19 percent to $23.11, the biggest gain since at least 1980. The world’s largest appliance maker reiterated that it expects to earn $3 to $4 a share this year. The mid point of the forecast range exceeded the average estimate of $3.16 from analysts.

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