Following yesterday's minor gains, stocks took a leap into positive territory today on signs of a slowly-but-surely strengthening U.S. economy. Before the opening bell this morning, the Commerce Department reported that February retail sales climbed at their fastest pace in five months, despite the recent increase in fuel costs. To boot, retail sales for December and January were upwardly revised, adding to the bullish sentiment on Wall Street.As the major market indexes trekked into multi-year high territory, traders kept their fingers crossed while the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) convened. As many economists expected, the FOMC voted to hold steady on its monetary policy, keeping interest rates near zero "at least through late 2014," and signaling no new bond purchases in the near future. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke & Co. also suggested that higher inflation brought on by rising gasoline prices will be "temporary and moderate to more acceptable levels." Against this upbeat backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed with a more-than 200-point jump, while the S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) gained nearly 2% apiece.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 13,177.68) tagged a fresh multi-year peak of 13,180.40 today, securing its second daily finish above 13,000 since Feb. 28. By the time the dust settled, the Dow was up 218 points, or 1.7%. All 30 blue chips landed in positive territory, as JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) soared 7% and 6.3%, respectively. Today marked the DJIA's highest close since late December 2007.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,395.96) climbed 24.9 points, or 1.8%, by the closing bell, after reaching as high as 1,396.13 -- its loftiest peak since June 2008. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 3,039.88) turned in the best performance of the bunch, rising 56 points, or 1.9%, and recording its best close in over 12 years. The COMP finished just a hair's breadth from its intraday high of 3,039.89.
Turning to equities in focus, Yahoo (YHOO) said it is suing social media site Facebook over patent infringements ...
Cadence Pharmaceuticals (CADX) added to its year-long decline after reporting a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss ...
Shares of FactSet Research Systems (FDS) rallied on the heels of a better-than-forecast quarterly profit ...
Software supplier Ebix (EBIX) announced a 26% rise in fourth-quarter sales ...
Xilinx (XLNX) edged higher after unveiling plans to boost its quarterly payout by 16% ...
and today's Quote of the Day comes from venture capitalist Fred Wilson. While writing about Yahoo's decision to file a patent lawsuit against Facebook, the incensed blogger didn't pull any punches:
"They are dead to me. Dead and gone. I hate them now."
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, Adam Warner discussed the CBOE Market Volatility Index's (VIX) recent pullback in his latest "Outside the Box" column. Click here to read what he thinks about the VIX's foray to new lows.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
Why OIH Is Finding Key Support at $52
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