After spending most of the session modestly north of breakeven, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) picked up steam amid afternoon reports from across the pond. Initially, Standard & Poor's downgrade warnings for the euro zone weighed on the bulls, diminishing optimism stemming from France and Germany's tag-teamed treaty proposal for the European Union (EU). However, a late-session media report lured a few more buyers from the sidelines, after the Financial Times said the EU -- slated to convene at the end of the week -- was in talks to double the size of its bailout fund. Against this backdrop, and thanks to an upgrade for General Electric (GE) and a solid forecast from 3M Company (MMM), the Dow settled another session comfortably higher. Elsewhere, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) eked out a slim gain by the close, while the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) bucked the trend by finishing in the red.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,150.13) tacked on 52.3 points, or 0.4%, by the time the dust settled, notching a fifth straight finish north of its 200-day moving average. Seventeen of the Dow's 30 components ended higher, led by General Electric's 2.4% gain. On the flip side, Caterpillar (CAT) paced the 11 decliners, giving up 0.9%, while Kraft Foods (KFT) and Pfizer (PFE) split the difference by finishing flat.
Meanwhile, after spending time on both sides of breakeven, the S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,258.47) eked out a gain of 1.4 points, or 0.1%. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,649.56) also flirted with both gains and losses, but eventually surrendered 6.2 points, or 0.2%, when all was said and done.
Turning to equities in focus, Pep Boys (PBY) stepped into the earnings confessional ... Call volume rose in tandem with the shares of Assured Guaranty (AGO) ... Microsoft (MSFT) garnered lukewarm analyst attention ... Lowe's (LOW) offered up weaker-than-expected current-quarter guidance ... Darden Restaurants (DRI) downwardly revised its fiscal-year forecast... and today's Quote of the Day comes from CNN columnist Elliot C. McLaughlin. Today -- and for the first time since 1997 -- the Green Bay Packers launched a stock sale, raising more than $40,000 in the first 11 minutes of trading. However, buying the team's "stock" isn't like buying a stock, as McLaughlin (an admitted Cowboys fan) points out:
"Congratulations, Packers fans! Those of you who've had your fill of Brett Favre bobbleheads and foam hats resembling Swiss cheese can now shell out $250 for something about as worthless."
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, Elizabeth Harrow offered up a socially acceptable way to strangle. Click here to watch the latest installment of Option Basics.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
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