On The Fly: Top Stock Stories For Thursday, Dec, 8

The market began the session quietly, as it has each day this week, and once again the buyers emerged toward the latter part of the morning and pushed the major averages to new all-time highs. Today's move lost some steam in the afternoon, though it was broad-based, with each of the averages closing at record levels.

Economic news 

In the U.S., initial jobless claims fell 10,000 to 258,000 in the week ended December 3, after climbing 17,000 to 268,000 last week.

In Europe, the European Central Bank announced a continuation of its asset-buying program, although a reduced pace of purchases is set to start from April next year. The current monthly pace of EUR 80B will continue until the end of March 2017, after which the net asset purchases are intended to continue at a monthly pace of EUR 60B until the end of December 2017, or beyond, if necessary. Benchmark interest rates were left unchanged, as expected.

In Asia, Japan cut its reading of third quarter economic growth to an annualized 1.3%, from a preliminary estimate of 2.2%. Chinese trade data for November showed that exports rose 0.1%, versus expectations for them to be down 5%, while imports rose 6.7%, versus expectations for them to be down 1.9%.

Company news 

Shares of Express Scripts (ESRX) moved lower, finishing the day down nearly 7%, after Andrew Left's Citron Research posted cautious comments comparing the pharmacy benefit manager to Philidor, the specialty pharmacy at the center a scandal involving Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX). CVS Health (CVS) and Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), which are also involved in pharmacy benefit management, both moved lower following Citron's tweets as well. Contacted by The Fly to comment on Citron's tweets, Express Scripts said it is "nothing like Philidor," adding that "one of the most important factors in lowering drug costs in this country is ensuring that drug manufacturers' power to raise prices is appropriately checked by the market, which is precisely the role PBMs play".

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