U.S. stocks shook off early weakness to extend their winning streak today, as investors cheered signs of progress in Europe and promising data on the home front. Across the pond, the European Central Bank (ECB) backed efforts to shore up the region's banks, which eased concerns about the fiscal fate of financial institutions exposed to Greek debt. On U.S. soil, meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warned that a reluctance to lend could stifle the economic recovery, but assured Congress that American banks have only a "very modest" exposure to European debt. In addition, investors celebrated a relatively well-received round of retail sales reports, as well as a smaller-than-forecast rise in first-time jobless claims -- which fueled optimism ahead of tomorrow's highly anticipated nonfarm payrolls report. While the death of tech icon and Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs made for a gloomy day on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) notched its third-straight triple-digit victory nonetheless.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 11,123.33) ended near a session high, tacking on 183.4 points, or 1.7%, by the close. As a result, the Dow not only reclaimed its perch atop the 11,000 level, it also ended north of its 10-day and 20-day moving averages for the first time since Sept. 20. Among the index's 30 components, only four bucked the trend, with Coca-Cola (KO) pacing the declining equities with a 0.2% drop. On the flip side, Bank of America (BAC) led the 26 advancing blue chips with an 8.8% gain.
Likewise, the S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,164.97) settled within striking distance of its intraday acme, adding 20.9 points, or 1.8%, by the bell. Like the Dow, the SPX ended atop both its 10-day and 20-day trendlines for the first time since Sept. 20. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,506.82) rallied 46.3 points, or 1.9%, to muscle atop the 2,500 level -- a feat not accomplished since Sept. 27. However, the tech-rich COMP's upward momentum stalled in the face of its own 20-day trendline.
Turning to equities in focus, Express Scripts (ESRX) took a hatchet to its full-year earnings forecast ... James River Coal Company's (JRCC) recent rebound didn't deter the option bears ... Deckers Outdoor (DECK) is attempting to break into triple-digit territory ... Both Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG) and P.F. Chang's (PFCB) were hit with downgrades ... Put buying has picked up steam on Kohl's (KSS) ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from none other than Steve Jobs. As this Wall Street Journal post points out, the Apple co-founder offered a plethora of notable sound bites over the years -- many about how acknowledging one's mortality can translate into a richer life. As he told Stanford's Class of 2005:
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
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, Jim Cunningham walked option rookies through the ins and outs of put buying. Click here for the latest installment of Inside Options.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
The Case for Big Moves in IWM and QQQ
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