Stocks quoted in this article:

"We are starting to receive fourth-quarter earnings reports, although most consider Alcoa Inc's (NYSE:AA) report on Thursday to be the unofficial start of the earnings season," said Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell, CMT. "The ADP employment report was released, and the jobs number solidly beat most expectations. Many participants viewed this improvement in the labor market as a sign that the Fed will be more likely to continue tapering its asset-buying program." As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) erased much of yesterday's gains.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

plus...
    The Fed released its meeting minutes from December, the private sector added more jobs than expected, and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) call volume spiked, despite losing a notable CEO contender.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,462.74) tumbled at the start of the session, and ended up finishing 68.2 points, or 0.4%, lower on the day. The blue-chip index's 10 advancers were led by Du Pont (NYSE:DD) -- which gained 1.3% -- while MSFT paced the 20 decliners with a loss of 1.8%.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,837.49) experienced some choppy price action throughout the day, and was down just 0.4 point, or 0.02%, by the closing bell. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,165.61) outperformed its peers by tacking on 12.4 points, or 0.3%.

Elsewhere, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 12.87) was parked in positive territory for most of the day, but finished roughly 0.1 point, or 0.4%, lower.

CLOSING SUMMARY – INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY – NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take:

"Overall, the broad market was mixed, with technology taking on a leadership role, and the Dow clearly underperforming," Bell continued. "The minutes for the December Fed meeting were also released late in the day, but we didn't see any widespread response from the market either way."

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. According to the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes, the central bank voted to taper amid concerns that the benefits of its asset-buying program were starting to erode. A survey included in the minutes revealed that "a majority of participants judged that the marginal efficacy of purchases was likely declining as purchases continue." (MarketWatch)
  2. Payroll giant Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ:ADP) said the private sector created 238,000 jobs in December, marking the best monthly gain of 2013. Economists, on average, were expecting the addition of just 200,000 new positions. (CNBC)
  3. Uptrending Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) received some bullish analyst attention at Susquehanna ahead of the opening bell.
  4. Call players zeroed in on Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) as the Chinese Internet stock surged to a record high this morning.
  5. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) call activity ramped up, despite the stock's drop in the wake of some CEO-related developments.
EARNINGS

For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.

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