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.
The Case for Big Moves in IWM and QQQ
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