Stocks quoted in this article:
The major market indexes are trading lower this afternoon, with stocks erasing their early gains after a pair of downbeat economic reports. Specifically, the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index declined by a steeper-than-forecast 0.7% in November, while the Conference Board's consumer confidence index retreated to 61.1 in January. On the heels of Monday's lackluster consumer spending stats, these gloomy data points have overshadowed initial optimism over a permanent bailout mechanism for the euro zone. As a result, equities are pinned below breakeven as we head into the second half of the session -- but the month of January is still shaping up to be a solid win for the bulls.
At last look, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA - 12,608.31) has given up 45.4 points, or 0.4%. For the month, the Dow has gained a healthy 3.2%. The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,310.49) has shed 2.5 points, or 0.2%, and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 2,807.80) is off 4.1 points, or 0.2%. On a monthly basis, the SPX is up 4.2%, while the COMP has jumped 7.8%.
Checking in on Dow components, American Express (AXP - 49.79) is up 1.4% to pace the 10 advancing blue chips. Leading the 20 laggards is Exxon Mobil (XOM - 83.66), with the oil major sitting on a post-earnings loss of 2.1%.
The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 19.72) is pointed higher this afternoon, with the "fear index" rising 1.7%. However, the VIX is still trading beneath resistance at its 20-day moving average, and it's poised to finish the month on a deficit of nearly 16%.
Among equities in focus, RadioShack (RSH - 7.18) has plunged 29.8% -- and earlier hit a fresh annual low of $7.15 -- after providing a bleak fourth-quarter earnings preview. The news has also sparked sympathy selling in fellow electronics retailer Best Buy (BBY - 24.04), down 5.3% at last look. In analyst news, Under Armour (UA - 79.30) scored an upgrade to "buy" at Needham, which has propelled the shares to a gain of 2.9% this afternoon. Over in the options pits, call players are likely cheering a post-earnings rally by ARM Holdings (ARMH), while premium sellers set their sights on Trina Solar (TSL).