It was a back-and-forth session for U.S. stocks, as traders priced in some cautious optimism regarding an austerity pact for Greece. After days of debate, lawmakers in Athens finally reached an agreement on belt-tightening measures, which will now go before officials from the bailout "troika" -- the European Union (EU), European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) -- for review. Approval of the new fiscal plan is required by Feb. 15 in order for Greece to dodge a disorderly debt default. Meanwhile, today's dose of domestic data was well-received, as the Labor Department unveiled a surprise decline in weekly jobless claims. Despite a choppy morning for equities, the major market indexes spent the second half of the session notching modest gains. In fact, the Dow and Nasdaq fared particularly well, with both extending their recent string of multi-year highs.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,890.46) traded in a 78-point range on both sides of breakeven, but eventually settled on a gain of 6.5 points, or 0.05%. At its session high, the Dow topped out at 12,924.71 -- its loftiest perch since May 2008. United Technologies (UTX) led the 16 advancing blue chips with a gain of 2.5%, while Cisco Systems (CSCO) paced the 13 laggards with a post-earnings pullback of 2.1%. Verizon (VZ), meanwhile, finished flat.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,351.95) managed a minor gain of just about 2 points, or 0.2%. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,927.23) touched a new 11-year best of 2,930.68, but eventually trimmed its advance to just 11.4 points, or 0.4%.
Turning to equities in focus, Akamai Technologies (AKAM) rallied 10.5% on the heels of its latest earnings report ... Visa (V) rallied to a new record high after surpassing the Street's first-quarter expectations ... American Superconductor (AMSC) warned of a wider-than-anticipated fourth-quarter loss ... TriQuint Semiconductor (TQNT) took a hit after offering soft earnings guidance ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from CNBC's Jane Wells, who weighed in on the new bacon milkshake offered by Jack in the Box (JACK). As Wells explained it, two appealing foods don't necessarily create an appealing hybrid:
"I love bacon, and I love milkshakes. However, I'm not sure they should breed. You end up with the mule of the fast food world."
But these weren't the only headlines hitting the Street today. Click on the links below for our blog coverage of:
And, in case you missed it, the latest edition of Option Basics explained how to use the Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR). Click here to watch the video.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
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