Stocks opened lower, weakened further in the early afternoon, before recovering some ground in the final hour of the session. At the close of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 59 points; the broader S&P 500 Index was off seven points; and the NASDAQ was lower by 39 points. Market breadth was negative, as losers were slightly ahead of winners on the NYSE.
Shares of UnitedHealth Group pulled back even after the company reported healthy top- and bottom-line growth for the December quarter.
Business prospects for The Kroger Company (KR) are mixed. The company, along with the grocery store segment as a whole, has been dealing with some headwinds in recent quarters. These include a deflation in food prices, particularly for staples like eggs, milk, and meat, which has pressured same-store sales growth. Competition is also on the rise, as the company has to deal with both traditional competitors from the grocery sector, and non-traditional players that have been increasing their food-related revenues.