More than a few buyers opted to sit on the sidelines today, taking a breather in the wake of Wednesday's surge and ahead of tomorrow's highly anticipated nonfarm payrolls report. Furthermore, a mixed bag of economic data kept stocks near the breakeven line. On one hand, the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index improved last month, suggesting domestic factories fared a little better than their peers in Europe and Asia. On the flip side, Uncle Sam's weekly jobless claims unexpectedly jumped back above the key 400,000 benchmark, which tipped the scales to the bears' side ahead of the aforementioned employment report from the Labor Department. Against this backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and S&P 500 Index (SPX) finished modestly lower, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP) eked out a slim gain by the bell.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,020.03) spent time on both sides of breakeven today, but eventually gave up 25.7 points, or 0.2%, by the close. Twenty of the Dow's 30 components ended lower, with Travelers (TRV) pacing the bearish majority with a 2.2% deficit. Meanwhile, Boeing (BA) led the nine advancing equities with a 3.3% gain, while General Electric (GE) finished the session right where it started.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,244.58) also finished a choppy session in the red, surrendering 2.4 points, or 0.2%, when the dust settled, On the flip side, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,626.20) tacked on 5.9 points, or 0.2%, with help from tech titan Yahoo (YHOO).
Turning to equities in focus, La-Z-Boy's (LZB) bottom-line results beat Wall Street's estimates ... MasterCard (MA) made a strategic investment in mobile financial services firm mFoundry ... Despite better-than-expected third-quarter results, Wedbush cut its price target for Aeropostale (ARO) ... PNC Financial (PNC) saw a single-day surge in call buying ... Analysts at Stifel reduced their price target on Finisar (FNSR) ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from Xeni Jardin, editor of the Boing Boing blog. As this New York Times article notes, while most of the Occupy Wall Street camps are gone, the phrases "99 percent" and "one percent" are officially embedded in the cultural and political lexicon. After all, says Jardin, it's hard to mock or subvert the slogans:
"How do you make fun of numbers?"
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 warned against holding tracking exchange-traded funds (ETFs) during a slow churn. 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.
The Case for Big Moves in IWM and QQQ
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