Stocks quoted in this article:
Stocks are on the upswing this afternoon, as traders cheer a positive report on consumer sentiment. The glad tidings actually started in the pre-market hours, with a downturn in oil prices luring a few buyers off the sidelines. Meanwhile, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index gave the bulls a boost in early trading. The index advanced to 70.8 in February -- easily surpassing the consensus estimate of 64.5, and marking its loftiest perch in a year. As a result, traders are overlooking a monthly drop in durable goods orders, as well as a multi-year nadir for the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index. A few well-received earnings reports are also helping to offset these lackluster data points, with familiar names like Priceline.com (PCLN), AutoZone (AZO), and Domino's Pizza (DPZ) all rising to fresh annual highs on the heels of their respective reports.
At last look, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA - 13,011.02) is up 29.5 points, or 0.2%, to revisit the now-familiar 13,000 level. The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,372.34) has advanced 4.8 points, or 0.4%, and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 2,988.06) has risen 21.9 points, or 0.7%. The SPX earlier hit a new annual high of 1,373.04, while the COMP climbed to a fresh peak of 2,988.59.
Checking in on Dow components, Microsoft (MSFT - 31.82) is leading the 21 advancing stocks with a 1.5% gain. On the flip side, American Express (AXP - 53.68) is 0.9% lower to pace the nine laggards.
The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 17.94) is down 1.4%, paring Monday's advance. The VIX is currently on track to close a seventh consecutive session below its 10-day and 20-day moving averages.
Among equities in focus, Office Depot (ODP - 3.51) has surged 16.2% after surpassing fourth-quarter profit predictions. Conversely, Human Genome Sciences (HGSI - 8.02) has retreated 4.5%, despite swallowing a slimmer-than-forecast quarterly loss. In brokerage news, Finisar (FNSR - 22.11) has fallen 4% following a downgrade to "hold" at Jefferies. Over in the options pits, pre-earnings speculators placed their bets on Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (SPPI - 14.32).