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"Overall, it was a pretty mixed day without a lot of net movement," said Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell, CMT. "We received a disappointing housing number this morning, which led to homebuilders underperforming. In addition, there was news overnight that the Bank of Japan made no changes to its interest rate, but did expand its lending facility. The yen has been receiving a lot of attention lately, as many point to the yen-based carry trade as being a big driver of this market." By the time the dust settled, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gave back 24 points, while tech stocks extended their winning streak.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

Plus ... Homebuilder confidence slumps, New York manufacturing activity slows, and Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:FRX) speculators have a profitable day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,130.40) spent most of the session south of breakeven, ending with a loss of 24 points, or 0.2%. Exactly half of the index's 30 blue chips finished lower, with The Coca-Cola Company's (NYSE:KO) earnings-induced swoon of 3.8% pacing the decliners. Financial concerns Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) led the advancers, tacking on 0.6% apiece.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,840.76) fared better, adding 2.1 points, or 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,272.78) outperformed its peers, gaining 28.8 points, or 0.7%, to end higher for the eighth straight session.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 13.87) advanced 0.3 point, or 2.2%, but remained south of the 14 mark.



A Trader's Take:

"Healthcare stocks received a boost after some M&A activity was announced this morning, and small-cap stocks once again took a leadership role," Bell added. "This is a good sign, as they lagged for much of the past several weeks."

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. The Empire State business conditions index released by the New York Fed hit 4.5 in February versus 12.5 the previous month. The reading came in below economists' expectations. One economist noted that manufacturing data has been weak of late due to "logistical issues caused by severe winter weather." (MarketWatch)
  2. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo housing market index dropped a month-over-month 10 points to 46 in February. Readings south of 50 are indicative of reduced confidence, as more survey respondents are reporting poor conditions instead of good. Rough winter weather across much of the country was likely a contributing factor. (Bloomberg)
  3. Two analysts expressed optimism on Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) ahead of the electric automaker's turn in the earnings confessional tomorrow evening.
  4. Forest Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:FRX) options traders scooped up some well-timed long calls in Friday's trading, ahead of this weekend's buyout news.
  5. Another new high for Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) sent short-term call buyers into action.

For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.

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