The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) got off to a rough start this morning, but a stronger-than-expected earnings report from one blue chip provided a happy distraction from global economic concerns -- albeit only temporarily. While the "fiscal cliff" was out of sight for a bit, it wasn't out of mind for long. Even as President Obama began meeting with key congressional players and labor leaders to avert the crisis -- which would trigger $607 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes come January -- Wall Street remained wary, with the major market indexes back below breakeven by the close.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) explored both sides of breakeven today, trading in a range of nearly 150 points. By the time the dust settled, the blue-chip barometer was about 59 points, or 0.5%, lower, marking its first finish south of 12,800 since July 25. Only six of the Dow's 30 blue chips bucked the trend, led by Home Depot's (NYSE:HD) earnings-induced gain of 3.6%. On the flip side, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) paced the declining majority, giving up 3.2% in the wake of a management shake-up.
In similar fashion, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) found itself back in the red in the final hour of trading, settling on a loss of 5.5 points, or 0.4%. Likewise, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) fared the worst of its peers, swallowing a loss of 20.4 points, or 0.7%.
Finally, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) also flirted with both gains and losses, but ultimately finished roughly 0.2% lower.
A Trader's Take
"What can you say? It was a disappointing day," noted Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick. "In the end, the bears took it to the bulls once again. One thing we noted on our trading floor was how weak the bounce seemed earlier in the day. Internals were weak and volume wasn't anything to get excited about, either. In the end, there were more disappointed bulls."
On the other hand, he said, "Home Depot had some really good earnings and gapped to a new high. It was nice to see a big blue chip finally have something good to say."
Economic and Earnings News
The U.S. government ran a deficit of $120 billion in October -- marking an increase of 21.8% from September, and exceeding the $113-billion figure expected by the Congressional Budget Office. On an adjusted basis, Treasury officials said the October deficit would be $130 billion, compared to $129 billion in October 2011.
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