Stocks broke out of the doldrums today, after a surprisingly solid nonfarm payrolls report set the bullish wheels in motion. Specifically, the Labor Department said the U.S. economy added 244,000 jobs in April -- surpassing economists' expectations, and marking the largest surge in nearly a year. What's more, the government upwardly revised its payrolls figures for January and February, which seemed to help traders take an increase in the unemployment rate with a proverbial grain of salt. However, the bulls lost some steam around midday, as crude oil and silver continued their run into the red, and as traders digested rumors -- eventually denied -- that Greece could exit the euro zone. Nevertheless, stocks successfully put a dent in their week-to-date deficits, with all three major market indexes snapping their losing streaks by the close.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,638.74) retreated from triple-digit highs, but still ended with a gain of 54.6 points, or 0.4%. Kraft Foods (KFT) led the 25 advancing blue chips with an earnings-induced gain of 2.1%, while Intel Corp. (INTC) paced the five black sheep with a loss of 1.5%. For the week, the Dow trimmed its weekly deficit to 1.3%.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,340.20) also pulled back from session highs, reducing its gain to 5.1 points, or 0.4%, by the bell. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,827.56) fared the best of its peers, tacking on 12.8 points, or 0.5%. After ending higher for the first session in six, the SPX reduced its weekly loss to 1.7%, while the COMP trimmed its week-to-date deficit to 1.6%.
Turning to equities in focus, Visa Inc. (V) took its turn in the earnings limelight ... JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is in "advanced discussions" to settle a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) probe ... CBOE Holdings (CBOE), DirecTV (DTV), and JDS Uniphase (JDSU) all earned post-earnings analyst attention ... Calls have rarely been in greater demand among EMC Corp. (EMC) options traders ... Out-of-the-money calls are heating up ahead of earnings from Tyson Foods (TSN) ... A spread speculator bet on a period of after-earnings stagnation for CBS Corporation (CBS) ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from James Angel, a professor at Georgetown University. Since the notorious "flash crash" exactly one year ago today, exchanges and regulators have implemented a slew of initiatives to guard against quick and dirty price plunges. However, it's nearly impossible to prevent every potential glitch, especially with computers -- not humans -- at the wheel, as Angel (somewhat philosophically) reminds us:
"Murphy's law hasn't been repealed."
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 explained the origins of stock options in the latest installment of Inside Options. Click here to watch the video.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
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