U.S. stocks spent most of the session swimming in red ink today, as Wall Street questioned both the health of the euro and the fate of the euro zone. In Italy, newly appointed Mario Monti was charged with the task of forming a new technocratic government, after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi surrendered the reins over the weekend. In light of the political uncertainty, though, Italian bond yields skyrocketed while the euro dropped, exacerbated by a dismal report on euro-zone industrial production. With no economic data on the home front, U.S. indexes swooned in sympathy with their European peers, while the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 31.13) extended its lead north of the 30 level.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,078.98) gave up 74.7 points, or 0.6%, by the time the bell sounded. Among the Dow's 30 components, Boeing (BA) led the three advancing elite with a 1.5% gain, after the firm inked a lucrative contract and projected a healthy market for airplanes in the Middle East. On the flip side, Bank of America (BAC) led the bearish majority, giving up 2.6%.
Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,251.78) surrendered 12.1 points, or 1%, by the close, but maintained its foothold atop the 1,250 level. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,657.22) swallowed a loss of 21.5 points, or 0.8%, after finding an intraday floor in the 2,650 neighborhood.
Turning to equities in focus, Lowe's Cos. (LOW) widened its fiscal-year sales estimates ... Ctrip.com (CTRP) was hit with negative analyst notes after offering lackluster guidance ... Tyson Foods (TSN) scored an upgrade to "overweight" from "neutral" ... Barron's waxed optimistic on Darden Restaurants (DRI) ... Questcor Pharmaceuticals (QCOR) earned a price-target boost ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from John Angus, an out-of-work English teacher who's witnessed his property value fall by more than half since he bought his house in Merced, Calif. What's more, his neighbors are trying to stay above water by renting their multi-bedroom homes to local college kids -- though Angus is far from amused, stating:
"This was supposed to be an edge-of-town, Desperate Housewifey community. These students are the reverse."
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, Senior VP of Research Todd Salamone outlined a few option strikes to watch during expiration week. Click here for his short-term road map.
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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