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What Happened in the Stock Market Today

Image source: Getty Images.

Stocks ended mixed on Thursday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) logged a slight gain and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) index lost ground.

Today's stock market:

Index

Percentage change

Point change

Dow

0.36%

68.35

S&P 500

(0.35%)

(7.73)

Data source: Yahoo Finance.

Oil prices jumped for a second straight day following OPEC's decision to cut global petroleum production. That spike produced significant gains for investors in both the United States Oil Fund (NYSEMKT: USO), which rose 4%, and the leveraged ProShares Ultra Crude Oil Fund (NYSEMKT: UCO) leaping 7%.

Meanwhile, Guess (NYSE: GES) and Kroger (NYSE: KR) stocks stood out with unusually large moves following their quarterly earnings announcements.

Guess misses its target

Guess shares fell 10% to bring their losses to a brutal 30% over the past 12 months. The retailer on Thursday revealed that operating trends worsened in the key U.S. market, which hurt its outlook for the upcoming holiday season and the full fiscal year.

Image source: Getty Images.

There were a few positive points in the quarterly announcement, including solid sales growth in Europe and Asia. However, these bright spots were swamped by the bad news of slumping sales and profits in the U.S. That region posted a 5% decline to mark a deceleration from the prior quarter 3% dip. Struggles there drove profitability deeper into negative territory, which contributed to a 27% decline in operating earnings.

CEO Victor Herrero and his executive team outlined a turnaround plan for the U.S. business that includes attempting to negotiate rent reductions while closing unprofitable stores. In any case, the worsening sales environment will pinch results for the full year, and so the company lowered both its top and bottom line targets for fiscal 2017.

Three months ago, Guess predicted that growth trends would improve in the third and fourth quarters, but Thursday's results show figures moving the opposite direction. Investors understandably reacted harshly to the fact that management badly misread its operating trends in the U.S. market.

Kroger deals with deflation

Kroger shares rose 3% after the grocery store chain posted its fourth straight quarter of decelerating sales growth. The company kept its 52-quarter streak of gains alive, but only by the smallest of margins. Comparable-store sales ticked up by just 0.1 %.

Data source: Kroger financial filings.

The company gained market share and increased its sales volume, but historic deflation cut deeply into the total value of those sales. Still, management was pleased with their execution in what CEO Rodney McMullen called a "difficult operating environment." The company is sticking with broader plans to improve the customer experience and lower costs over the long term. "We don't change our strategy based on quarterly swings in results," McMullen said in a press release.

Kroger doesn't expect much improvement in the operating environment over the next few quarters. In fact, McMullen and his team believe the second half of its fiscal year will be characterized by just barely positive comps. The slowdown should put the supermarket chain at the low end of its long-run target of between 8% and 11% annual earnings growth, too. It's a testament to the power of its business model that Kroger can still achieve solid profit gains as that the grocery industry suffers through one of the worst bouts of deflation on record. 

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Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Guess?. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.