Mar 21 - U.S. stocks fall as Oracle slump and Cyprus mess offset encouraging economic data. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Earnings are back on investors' minds and that lead to the biggest one-day drop on Wall Street in about a month. The Dow tumbled 90 points, the S&P lost 12 and the Nasdaq gave up 31 points. After the bell, Nike easily beat profit targets with sales at the low end of analysts' forecasts. However, future orders for its sneakers and athletic gear - globally rising to just under $10 billion Earlier, KB Home posted a smaller quarterly loss. The No. 5 U.S. homebuilder is seeing rising demand and higher selling prices, which partly offset a push into pricier neighborhoods. But those results weren't the focus.... Analysts sliced price targets on Oracle after the business software giant had a big miss on new software revenue, blaming poor sales execution. Shares of Oracle had their worst day since December 2011 with a 9.7 percent slump. And it wasn't alone. FedEx lost another 2.6 percent after a diminished outlook given on Wednesday. And apparel retailer Guess tumbled 7.2 percent after its forecasts for the current quarter and for the year came in way below the consensus Economic data is pointing to a recovery that's getting stronger. Home re-sales jumped to a three-year high of just under 5 million units last month. Meanwhile, business activity in the Mid-Atlantic states expanded for the first time in three months. And jobless claims rose last week. But the four-week moving average is at a five-year low. YouTube says 1 billion unique visitors now visit the site each month, which works out to one-in-every two people on the Internet. Finally, European markets were down with Cyprus told to find the cash to rescue its banks by Monday or lose out on an international bailout.