Stocks ended higher today -- although it was a choppy, back-and-forth session to rival yesterday's lackluster action. Wall Street reacted positively to the recent retreat in crude oil futures -- which closed with a loss once again -- as well as a one-year high in the Conference Board's consumer confidence index. However, the upbeat mood was tested by a few less-encouraging domestic economic reports. Traders learned that durable goods orders dropped at their fastest pace in three years, while the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index plummeted to its lowest point since January 2003. Despite these sobering data points, a few upbeat corporate earnings reports ultimately helped to tip the scales in the bulls' favor. Against this backdrop, all three major equity benchmarks finished in the black, with both the S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) scoring new highs along the way -- and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) landing its first finish north of 13,000 since May 2008.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 13,005.12) muscled to a late-session peak of 13,021.51, but pulled back a bit to finish with a modest 23.6-point, or 0.2%, climb. Among the Dow's 30 blue chips, Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC) paced the 21 winning components, tacking on 1.7% and 1.3%, respectively. American Express (AXP) led the nine laggards with an 0.8% loss.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,372.18) added 4.6 points, or 0.3%, after peaking earlier at a new multi-year high of 1,373.09. Lastly, the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,986.76) fared the best of its peers, jumping 20.6 points, or 0.7%. The COMP peaked at 2,988.59, marking another new 11-year high.
Turning to equities in focus, both Priceline (PCLN) and AutoZone (AZO) tagged annual highs after unveiling stronger-than-forecast earnings ... Human Genome Sciences' (HGSI) fourth-quarter loss pushed the stock further below the $10 mark ... Call players cheered Office Depot's (ODP) post-earnings jump ... Hovnanian (HOV) took a turn for the worse, despite promising preliminary contract results ... JA Solar (JASO) upwardly revised its fourth-quarter shipment forecast ... Cablevision (CVC) erased its year-to-date gain after a bottom-line miss ... Apollo Group (APOL) slashed its second-quarter forecast for new enrollment growth ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from Judith Feder, a broker who's been busy arranging private-market sales of Facebook stock. High demand for Facebook shares has provided an excellent way for Feder to prepare for swimsuit season, as she explained to The Wall Street Journal:
"I call it the Facebook diet. I don't remember the last time I had dinner."
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 Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick explained how contrarians could use soaring VIX futures as a bullish indicator. Click here to listen to Ryan's latest interview with The Traders Network.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
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