The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) got off to a rough start, but stair-stepped its way modestly higher by the close. "It was a very light news day, and volume was also light," said Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) battled for headline supremacy, resulting in a roller-coaster session for the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP). However, "With the S&P 500 Index (SPX) up near its 2012 peak at 1,475, and earnings season just about to heat up, most participants are taking a breather here."
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) didn't stray too far from breakeven, exploring a range of just 61 points. By the close, the blue-chip barometer added 18.9 points, or 0.1%, to reclaim a perch atop the 13,500 level. Sixteen of the Dow's 30 components ended higher, led by Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE:HPQ) 4.9% ascent. Meanwhile, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) paced the 13 declining equities, shedding 1.6%, while Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) finished flat.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX) also traded in a tight range, giving up 1.4 points, or 0.1%, by the bell. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) took a roller-coaster ride in the red, settling on a loss of 8.1 points, or 0.3%. Earlier in the session, the tech-rich COMP touched an intraday nadir of 3,104.08.
The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) bounced back from multi-year lows, edging 0.2 point, or 1.2%, higher.
A Trader's Take:
"There were two highlights on a rather slow day," said Detrick. "First off, AAPL sank more than 3% on reports of poor iPhone 5 demand. Nonetheless, the market took this in stride, as there was a time last year when a big down day for AAPL meant a bloodbath across the board. This is changing, and I find it to be a very nice sign." On the other hand, DELL surged on reports of a potential buyout. "Yes, DELL has been a long-time laggard," admits Detrick. "Still, I'm always encouraged by deals, as it shows there are still solid values out there and companies have the confidence and financing to make things happen."
3 Things to Know About Today's Market:
Plus ... The White House this weekend rejected the idea of building a "Death Star" for national defense, denying a petition signed by more than 34,000 apparent Star Wars fans. In a detailed response, Paul Shawcross, chief of the Science and Space Branch with the White House Office of Management and Budget, said, "The administration does not support blowing up planets." Furthermore, he asks, "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?"
Today's Top Tweet:
"Since mid-September, Apple has lost $196 billion in market value which works out to $620 per every American."
@EddyElfenbein, (Eddy Elfenbein), 9:21 a.m.
5 Stocks We Were Watching Today:
Question of the Day:
Q: Why do some stocks issue options that trade in one-point increments, while others have options in five-point increments?
A: The strike prices available on a particular stock are typically related to the underlying security's share price. The higher the stock price, the wider the spreads will usually be between strike prices. There are four commonly used intervals: $1, $2.50, $5, and (much more infrequently) $10. While there are some exceptions, the general rule is that the $1 interval is used for highly liquid stocks trading under $50, while the $2.50 or $5 intervals are employed on stocks trading between $50 and $150. Finally, the $10 interval is used for the priciest stocks, or those trading north of $200. Many highly liquid, high-priced stocks, however -- such as Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) -- will have their options listed in $5 increments.
For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.
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