Stocks mixed in midday trading; Valeant drops

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 5, 2015.

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Last Updated Nov 5, 2015 12:49 PM EST

NEW YORK - U.S. stocks moved lower for a second-straight day Thursday, following mixed quarterly results from companies like Facebook and Whole Foods Market. Investors are also preparing for the release of the government's monthly jobs report, out Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average added eight points to 17,876 as of 12:41 p.m. ET. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost one point to 2,101 and the Nasdaq composite fell 19 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,123.

Facebook shares jumped $4.73, or 5 percent, to $108.72. The social network reported an 11 percent gain in quarterly profits, helped by higher advertising revenue. The company said more than 1.5 billion people now visit Facebook at least once a month, up 14 percent from a year ago. Daily users increased by 17 percent, to 1.1 billion.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals, the high-flying pharmaceutical stock from earlier this year, was down sharply yet again on Thursday, falling $13.70, or 15 percent, to $78.14 following reports that a major hedge fund had sold their investment in the company and a Congressional panel is probing the company's operations. Valeant shares have been plummeting since July, as skeptical investors and analysts have questioned the company's operations. The stock was over $250 a share three months ago.

Whole Foods Market fell $1.58, or 5 percent, to $29.18. The grocery store chain reported that its latest quarterly profit fell by more than half as it faces more intense competition now because organic foods are becoming more widely available. The results missed analysts' estimates.

Testifying before a committee of the U.S. Congress, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen described the U.S. economy as "performing well" and said an interest rate hike in December was a "live possibility" if the economy stays on track. Her view was echoed by another Fed policymaker later in the day. Yellen did stress that no decision has been made yet and a move in December will depend on how the economy fares between now and then.

Yellen's comments set the stage for tomorrow's jobs report. Economists expect that U.S. employers added 190,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate remained steady at 5.1 percent, according to FactSet.

"Even with weak data, Fed rhetoric increasingly points toward a December lift-off," DBS Group Research said in a daily commentary. The report said it was only a week ago when markets lowered the odds of a December rate hike due to poor data. "Markets have had to adjust expectations rapidly."

Benchmark U.S. crude futures fell 42 cents to $45.90 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slumped $1.58, or 3.3 percent, to close at $46.32 a barrel on Wednesday as Yellen's comments pushed up the dollar.

The euro rose slightly to $1.0876 from $1.0866 on Wednesday. The dollar strengthened to 121.89 yen from 121.51 yen.