After starting the week in positive territory, U.S. stocks reversed course this morning, and spent most of today's session trying -- with mixed results -- to get back to breakeven. The major market indexes opened lower out of the gate, as traders digested the Commerce Department's weaker-than-expected report on January retail sales. Traders also had to sift through Moody's downgrades of Spain, Italy, and Portugal, as well as the threat of ratings cuts for another handful of major European Union players. Meanwhile, Wall Street eyed reports suggesting the Greek bailout could be at risk of falling through, as euro-zone finance ministers postponed a much-anticipated meeting that had been planned for Wednesday. Eurogroup leader Jean-Claude Juncker explained that bailout officials need more time to iron out some remaining issues with Greece, and postponed the summit until next Monday, Feb. 20. Despite these lingering concerns, and a day spent mostly in the red, stocks ended not too far from where they started.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,878.28) fell as low as 12,786.93, but eventually muscled its way 4.2 points, or 0.03%, higher. Among the Dow's 30 components, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) paced the 16 winning issues with a gain of 1.2%. Meanwhile, Bank of America (BAC) led the 14 laggards with a loss of 3.3%, thanks to a downgrade at Citigroup.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,350.50) surrendered 1.3 points, or 0.09%, after touching an intraday nadir of 1,340.83. On the other hand, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,931.83) tacked on 0.4 point, or 0.02%, climbing out of its intraday bottom of 2,911.60.
Turning to equities in focus, Michael Kors Holdings (KORS) hit a lifetime high after earnings ... Rackspace Hosting (RAX) saw its fourth-quarter profit surge by 85% ... Limelight Networks posted a narrower-than-expected fourth-quarter deficit ... The Gap (GPS) scored bullish attention from analysts at Citigroup ... United Therapeutics (UTHR) backpedaled on a revenue miss and weak 2012 outlook ...
and today's Quote of the Day comes from author John Kirkland, who compiled a book featuring the love letters of historical tyrants like Napoleon, Joseph Stalin, and Benito Mussolini. Throughout the book, Kirkland shows us that even the most despicable oppressors needed to express their emotions with those they loved. As he points out:
"Almost everyone was descriptive and seemed to put a lot of care into what they wrote. Except Hitler."
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, Schaeffer's contributor Adam Warner explained why the "Super Bowl Quants" failed to predict the winner of football's biggest game. Click here to read this week's installment of Outside the Box.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
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