Due to a lack of major domestic news, Wall Street spent much of the day digesting uninspiring overseas data, and preparing for what's ahead on Tuesday's agenda. Ahead of the bell, China posted a larger-than-expected $31.48-billion trade deficit on sluggish export demand, suggesting the world's second-largest economy is feeling the ill effects of the euro-zone debt crisis. Meanwhile, Eurogroup members assembled in Brussels to discuss their next steps on the Greek bailout, as fellow fiscal black sheep Italy confessed to a decline in its fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP). Here at home, traders appeared to be cautious ahead of tomorrow's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. Following last week's well-received nonfarm payrolls report, the FOMC is expected to do little, if anything at all, to grease the monetary wheels. Against this backdrop, stocks finished a wobbly day not too far from where they started.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,959.71) spent the first half of the day bouncing along breakeven before finishing with a gain of 37.7 points, or 0.3%. This marked the Dow's fourth straight daily victory. Twenty-one of its 30 components ended higher, as Exxon Mobil (XOM) led the outperforming majority with a 1.5% increase. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Caterpillar (CAT) paced the eight laggards with a 1.2% drop each, while Travelers Companies (TRV) remained unchanged.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,371.09) was little moved today, inching up just 0.2 point, or 0.02%, by the closing bell. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,983.66) diverged from the pack by pulling back nearly 5 points, or 0.2%.
Turning to equities in focus, China-based Youku (YOKU) announced the acquisition of rival online video company Tudou Holdings (TUDO) ...
Homebuilding firm PulteGroup (PHM) scored an upgrade to "overweight" from "equal weight" at Barclays ...
Aluminum producer Alcoa (AA) edged higher, despite its impending removal from the S&P 100 Index (OEX) at the end of the week ...
Shares of Michael Kors (KORS) declined after the clothing and accessories designer revealed plans for a secondary public offering worth $25 million ...
and today's Quote of the Day comes from Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal. While discussing the similarities between the stock market and the Iditarod dog-sled race in Alaska, Zweig noted that Daniel Dent of Baltimore is likely the only fund manager in the U.S. who has competed in the race. After hearing of Mr. Dent's unflappable dedication to the grueling, 1,000-mile long competition, he mused:
"When a guy like this talks about 'buy and hold,' he means it."
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, Senior VP of Research Todd Salamone discussed the pullback in small-cap stocks in the latest installment of Monday Morning Outlook. Click here to read what Todd has to say about the divergence of the Russell 2000 Index (RUT) from the broader SPX.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
The Case for Big Moves in IWM and QQQ
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