"After Friday's surprising reaction to the stronger-than-expected jobs data, the market seemed to need a day to catch its breath," observed Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "There wasn't a lot of news, but we did see some merger and acquisition activity, which is always a nice boost to overall confidence." Meanwhile, as investors digested the latest round of comments from Federal Reserve officials, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) pared some of its gains during the afternoon to end modestly higher.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,025.53) spent nearly all of today's session trading above breakeven, but pared the bulk of its gains by the end to settle with a gain of 5.3 points, or less than 0.05%. General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), Microsoft Corporation (NYSE:MSFT), and Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) led the Dow's 17 winners, each posting a gain of 0.9%. McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) paced the 12 laggards, dropping 1.1%, while Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) was unchanged.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,808.37) also closed near its lows of the day after spending the lion's share of the session in the green. By the closing bell, the index had managed an increase of 3.3 points, or 0.2%. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,068.75) followed a similar path -- edging up 0.2%, or 6.2 points, but not before notching a fresh 13-year intraday peak of 4,081.78.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 13.49) took a modest tumble, losing 0.3 point, or 2.2%. The market's fear gauge closed a hair below its 40-day moving average.
A Trader's Take:
"Historically, December is flat until about the 15th of the month, then it goes straight up for the next two weeks," Detrick noted. "So far, 2013 seems to be playing that potential template perfectly."
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5 Stocks We Were Watching Today:
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