Despite a rough start to the session, U.S. stocks ended higher today, as upbeat domestic data overshadowed the latest European debt drama. Instead of focusing on lackluster gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the euro zone, or soaring Italian and Spanish bond yields, traders took the glass-half-full approach and celebrated a round of home-grown economic reports. Most notably, traders applauded stronger-than-expected retail sales figures, as well as the Empire State manufacturing index's first foray into positive territory since May. Against this sunny-side-up backdrop, all three major market indexes clawed their way to modest gains by the close.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA 12,096.16) traded in a range of nearly 165 points today, but settled with a gain of 17.2 points, or 0.1%, by the bell. Seven of the Dow's 30 blue chips bucked the trend, with Chevron (CVX) leading the decliners with a loss of 2.7%, and Boeing (BA) and 3M Company (MMM) finishing right where they started. On the flip side, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) paced the 23 advancing equities with a 3.4% gain.
Likewise, the S&P 500 Index (SPX 1,257.81) spent a healthy amount of time on both sides of the breakeven line, but notched a gain of 6 points, or 0.5%, when all was said and done. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP 2,686.20) fared the best of the three, bouncing back from an early deficit to end about 29 points, or 1.1%, higher.
Turning to equities in focus, Zagg Inc. (ZAGG) upwardly revised its full-year revenue guidance ... On the other hand, LDK Solar (LDK) slashed its third-quarter sales forecast ... Meanwhile, Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) announced its first-ever annual dividend ... Western Digital (WDC) was hit with an acquisition-related downgrade ... Goldman Sachs waxed pessimistic on Marathon Oil (MRO) ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from Alex Ferkov. At first, the café owner didn't mind when the Occupy Wall Street protesters used his facilities. Two months later, however, he's not shedding any tears over the Zuccotti Park eviction. As he told The Wall Street Journal:
"They clog the toilets, and they don't say anything. Let them go elsewhere."
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 discussed when options underestimate post-earnings price swings. Click here for 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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