U.S. stocks fluctuate with S&P 500 set for best year since 1997

2014 Forecast

Equity returns will slow next year, Wall Street strategists forecast. The S&P 500 will end 2014 at 1,950, according to the average of 20 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That represents a 5.9% gain over the next 12 months.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, the gauge of S&P 500 options known as the VIX, rose 8% to 13.46 today, poised for a second day of gains. The gauge has dropped 25% this year.

Energy producers dropped 0.6% for the biggest decline among main industries in the S&P 500. Pioneer Natural Resources Co. slid 2.9% to $182.09 while Tesoro Corp. decreased 1.2% to $56.71. Exxon Mobil Corp. lost 1% to $100.49 and Chevron Corp. slipped 0.6% to $124.44.

Facebook, Twitter

Facebook declined 2.2% to $54.20. Shares of the social-networking company have plunged 6.4% since reaching a record on Dec. 24. Facebook is poised for its biggest monthly gain since September, rallying 16% in December.

Twitter decreased 2% to $62.50. The social- networking company on Dec. 27 fell the most since it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange after Macquarie Capital downgraded the shares, saying they had risen “too far, too fast.”

Myriad Genetics Inc. fell 14% to $20.86. Piper Jaffray Cos. lowered its price estimate for the supplier of genetic tests to $29 from $36, citing a decision by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reduce the reimbursement rate by about 49% for screening devices to help predict breast cancer risk.

Crocs rose 21%, the biggest jump since August 2009, to $16.12. CEO John McCarvel will step down on April 30. The shoemaker will use the Blackstone funds to increase stock repurchases to $350 million, Niwot, Colorado-based Crocs said.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney jumped 2.2% to a record $76.01. The world’s largest entertainment company was raised to buy from neutral by Guggenheim Securities LLC analyst Michael Morris. Morris’ 12-month target price is $87.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. rose 4.5% to $23.99 after it dropped plans to be bought by India’s Apollo Tyres Ltd., citing a lack of financing for the transaction, and said it will seek damages. Cooper said on June 12 that Apollo planned to buy the U.S. tiremaker for $35 a share in a $2.5 billion deal.

All 10 main industries in the S&P 500 have advanced this year, led by a 40% gain in consumer-discretionary companies. Phone companies have the weakest performance, with a 6.6% increase.

2013 Performance

Netflix Inc. has soared 298%, the biggest gain this year in the S&P 500, as the world’s largest video-subscription company reported earnings that surged more than analysts forecast. Micron Technology Inc. has rallied 237% as the chipmaker is projected to return to a profit in the fiscal year ending in August.

Best Buy Co. has climbed 237% this year, rebounding after a 49% drop in 2012. Urban Outfitters Inc. has the only loss among consumer-discretionary shares, dropping 5.2%.

Newmont Mining Corp., has plunged 50% this year, the biggest annual loss in the S&P 500. The price of gold has dropped 28% in 2013, heading for its first annual loss since 2000. Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., the second-worst performer in the index, has lost 30%.

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