The markets opened lower as oil prices surged above $110 a barrel. The Dow lost 63 points to 12,046 while Nasdaq gave up 5 points to 2238.
On the upsideAir Methods (Nasdaq: AIRM) posted higher 4th quarter profits due to increased revenues from a recent acquisition and lower tax expenses. Shares of the provider of emergency medical air transportation surged.
Shares of Take-Two (Nasdaq: TTWO) edged higher as Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS) planned a hostile $2 billion tender offer over its video game rival.
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) offered conservative guidance for the 1st quarter and the rest of the year, but remained mostly optimistic about its outlook.
On the downsideShares of Bear Stearns (NYSE: BSC) slumped on news that Carlye Capital may soon lose all of its assets. As one of Carlye's creditors, Bear Stearns may end up with more mortgage-related writedowns.
Sigma Designs (Nasdaq: SIGM) posted 4th quarter profits that missed targets. Analysts promptly downgraded the chip maker.
Time Warner's AOL unit (NYSE: TWX) announced a $850 million deal to buy social network Bebo.
In the broad market, declining issues outpaced advancers by a margin of nearly 5 to 3 on the NYSE and by 5 to 4 on Nasdaq. The Russell 2000 which tracks small cap stocks lost 2 points to 666.