MEN'S WEAR BATTLE: Men's Wearhouse dropped $3.28, or 7 percent, to $43.25, after Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, which Men's Wearhouse had been pursuing, announced a deal of its own. Jos. A. Bank said that it was buying the parent company of Eddie Bauer. Jos. A. Bank's stock also fell, dropping 95 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $54 as investors judged an acquisition was now less likely.
FEELING THE SQUEEZE: Weight Watchers International plunged $7.69, or 25.1 percent, to $22.83 after reporting a big drop in earnings that was worse than analysts' had been forecasting. The company also issued a weak earnings forecast, saying 2014 would be a "very challenging year."
FACTORY SLUMP: Harsh winter weather led to a steep drop in U.S. factory output in January. Manufacturers made fewer cars and trucks, appliances, furniture and carpeting, as the recent cold spell ended five straight months of increased production. The Federal Reserve said factory production plunged 0.8 percent in December, reversing gains of 0.3 percent in both December and November.
EUROPEAN OPTIMISM: investors were also encouraged by a pickup in economic growth in Europe. The bloc of countries that use the euro currency grew 0.3 percent in the final three months of last year, suggesting that the recovery is getting a foothold, both in the larger economies like Germany and weaker ones like Italy.
An improving economy in Europe "is an important removal of a possible negative for 2014," said Jim Russell, a regional investment director at US Bank. "Europe will continue to make gradual headway this year."
TREASURYS AND COMMODITIES: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.75 percent from 2.73 percent Thursday. The price of oil dropped 39 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $99.97 a barrel. Gold gained $15.80, or 1.2 percent, to $1,315.60 an ounce.