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All three major market indexes started the day off on the right foot, reaching session highs right out of the gate. Wall Street cheered progress on the European Union's (EU) permanent bailout fund, and promising news that a debt-restructuring deal is nigh for Greece. Back home, however, stocks retreated on a bigger-than-expected slide in home prices, and a surprise drop in consumer confidence. Coupled with yesterday's lackluster report on consumer spending, stocks had a hard time maintaining their positive momentum. Against this wishy-washy backdrop, equities ended the day mostly lower. However, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), S&P 500 Index (SPX), and Nasdaq Composite (COMP) were able to close out January with big gains.

CLOSING SUMMARY – INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY – NYSE AND NASDAQ

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,632.91) tagged a high of 12,720.10 in early trading, but finished the day 20.8 points, or 0.2%, lower. Among the index's 30 components, American Express (AXP) led the 16 winning equities with an advance of 2.1%. Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil (XOM) paced the 14 losing components with an earnings-induced pullback of 2.1%. The blue-chip barometer ended the month with a 3.4% surplus -- its best January performance since 1997.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,312.40) gave up 0.6 point, or 0.05%, by the close. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,813.84) was the only one of its peers to muscle to a daily win, ending just 1.9 points, or 0.07%, higher. For the month, the SPX closed 4.4% higher, while the COMP bested its peers with an 8% climb. It was the SPX's best January showing since 1997, and the COMP's best since 2001.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 19.44) gained 0.2% today, closing between its 10-day and 20-day moving averages. The "fear barometer" ended the month with a 16.9% deficit, and closed below 20 for the first time since June 2011.

Turning to equities in focus, Pfizer (PFE) lowered its full-year forecast ... Calls were the options of choice ahead of Oshkosh's (OSK) turn in the earnings confessional ... L-3 Communications' (LLL) fourth-quarter bottom line topped expectations ... Post-earnings call volume ramped up on United Parcel Service (UPS) ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from Steve Rosenstock, analyst at Clarkston Consulting. Grocery store brands have been gaining in popularity recently versus their national brand counterparts. And it appears that the old black-and-white labeling that once signaled frugality is long gone. Now, consumers purchase the off-brand selections with "loyalty and positive experiences" in mind. As Rosenstock points out:

"It's much less about value and price than it used to be."

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 how not to tell if the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) is oversold. Click here to read the latest installment of our Outside the Box blog.

For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.

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