Stocks Post Modest Losses as Investors Get Ready for Earnings

Dow gives back Friday's gains as it trades in a narrow range throughout the session

by 1/7/2013 4:17:12 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:

"The market caught its breath today after last week's explosive gains," noted Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) traded in losing territory all day, but spent most of its time within a 50-point range before closing off about 0.4%.

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

  • Two broad-market levels to watch overhead, from Senior Trading Analyst Bryan Sapp.
  • Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) speculators see even more upside ahead.
  • Schaeffer's contributor Adam Warner explores whether the recent dramatic reversal in the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) means anything for the broader market.
plus...
  • Big news from the banking sector, bullish speculation in Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and fun with math in our Tweet of the day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) undid Friday's gains and breached the 13,400 level, closing down 51 points, or 0.4%. One dozen of the Dow 30 finished with gains, led by McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), which tacked on 1.2%. While UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) finished flat, Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) paced the 17 lagging issues, with a drop of 2.3%. The entertainment conglomerate is reportedly investigating cost-cutting measures.

In a similar fashion, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) gave back 4.6 points, or 0.3%, while the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) had another day near breakeven, closing off 2.9 points, or 0.1%.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) kept moving lower -- its fifth consecutive losing session. By the close, the index was off 0.3%, or less than 0.1 point.

CLOSING SUMMARY  INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY  NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take:

"When you consider fourth-quarter earnings are all set up to start tomorrow when Alcoa (NYSE:AA) reports, it makes sense that we saw some selling today," explained Detrick. "The selling seemed rather organized, though, and the fact that buyers stepped in late in the session was a plus. Still," he continued, "the thing I'm most excited about is the chance to talk about earnings for the next several weeks instead of focusing on the fiscal-cliff drama."

3 Things to Know About Today's Market:

  • A group of 10 banks -- including Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) -- will collectively pay $8.5 billion to settle foreclosure complaints. Roughly 400,000 homeowners that were ruled wrongfully foreclosed on will receive recompense from a few hundred dollars to as much as $125,000.
  • In other banking news, BAC settled its own dispute with Fannie Mae. BAC will pay the government-owned mortgage concern more than $3.6 billion outright and will assume $6.75 billion in bad loans that should never have been sold to Fannie Mae based on lending criteria that existed at the time. Finally, BAC owes $1.3 billion in a separate settlement concerning foreclosure delays, resulting in net settlement feeds of more than $11.6 billion.
  • Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hit a notable milestone today, as its App Store facilitated its 40 billionth unique download. Currently, the service has more than 500 million active users and 775,000 apps available for free download or purchase. An AAPL spokesman boasted that developers have so far made more than $7 billion from App Store sales.

Plus ... tonight's college football national championship is a showdown between Notre Dame's Fighting Irish and the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide. Notre Dame, however, can already boast victory on a financial scale. While Notre Dame's football program earned a profit of $43.2 million this season (behind Alabama's $45 million), it will book $6.2 million for its appearance in the championship game. Alabama, meanwhile, has to split a $23.6 million payout with the other 13 members of the SEC conference.

Today's Top Tweet:

"14,761: The level the DJIA would be trading at if all 30 [Dow] stocks hit their average analyst price target."
@bespokeinvest, (Bespoke Investment Group), 1:00 p.m.

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today:

  1. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) saw heavy buying action in its short-term calls.
  2. A Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) trader sold puts and shorted stock as a delta-neutral short volatility play.
  3. ValueClick (NASDAQ:VCLK) speculators bet against the shares, as the stock struggles with the round-number $20 level.
  4. Bullish speculation in VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS) revved notably higher.
  5. Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) hit a new 52-week peak after scoring an upgrade from Morgan Stanley this morning.

Question of the Day:

Q: Are there specific requirements a stock must meet before it can have options listed?
A: Each options exchange maintains its own set of rules, but the basic criteria are standard across the board to ensure that options contracts are liquid enough for public trading. Currently, according to the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), a stock must have closed north of $3 per share for five consecutive sessions prior to listing options. The stock's float must consist of at least 7 million shares and there must be at least 2,000 individual stockholders. Additionally, trading volume must have totaled at least 2.4 million shares during the previous 12 months. Finally, the stock itself has to be listed on a national securities exchange.

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

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