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Muted Finish for Stocks as Indexes Digest Recent Gains

Oil continues to lose ground, closes near three-week low

by 3/5/2014 4:21:16 PM
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"The market held tough today after yesterday's huge move higher," noted Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "Volume was light, as traders took a step back ahead of Friday's employment data." The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) hovered south of breakeven for most of the session, ending modestly lower on the day. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) moved to its highest point on record intraday, but closed slightly in the red.

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

  • Options traders can't pick a side on J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP), as the long-term laggard has displayed short-term strength.
  • Two major grocery chains and a Chinese Internet concern have earnings on deck for tomorrow.
  • In case you missed it, Schaeffer's contributor Adam Warner outlines the 5 stages of an international crisis, as it relates to the market.
  • Plus ... Economic expansion continues despite weather woes, Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) earns a vote of confidence, and Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) traders place conflicting wagers.
Trading Topic of the Week -- Ways to Win with Aggressive Trades: Stay open to both bullish and bearish setups. Thanks to the flexibility of options, you can reap leveraged profits even when the market is in sell-off mode.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,360.18) ended slightly lower on the day, after trading below the flat line for the bulk of the session. By the closing bell, the blue-chip index was down 35.7 points, or 0.2%. A dozen of the Dow's components finished higher, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) leading the charge, up 1.9%. Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) paced the declining majority with its 2.8% drop.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,873.81) finished in the red by a hair, down 0.1 point, but not before tagging a new intraday high of 1,876.53. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,357.97) outperformed its index peers, adding 6 points, or 0.1%, into the close. Intraday, the index reached another near-14-year high of 4,362.50.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 13.89) slipped on the day, settling with a decline of 0.2 point, or 1.5%, after trading in a relatively wide range between 14.32 and 13.81.

CLOSING SUMMARY  INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY  NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take:

"Technology continued to lead today, which was good to see," added Detrick. "Overall, it was a nice, slow day after the big gains on Tuesday. So many times we've had a big day and then a big dump. Today's price action was rather encouraging, as it showed that buyers are still in control. Today felt more like a buyers' strike rather than anything to do with sellers."

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. Two-thirds of the 12 U.S. Fed districts continued to see economic expansion last month, even amid extreme cold. Most increases were deemed "modest to moderate," according to the Beige Book released today. Retail sales slipped in most parts of the country, although hotel chains and ski resorts benefited from the blustery conditions. (Bloomberg)
  2. Severe winter weather also compromised the hiring process last month, as the private sector added just 139,000 jobs in February, per the ADP survey released today. Economists were expecting more robust job growth among businesses. (USA Today)
  3. Short-term options players placed bets on where Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) will close out the week.
  4. Fresh from a new record high in Tuesday's trading, Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) scored a brokerage upgrade this morning.
  5. Breaking down a positive development on the Visa Inc (NYSE:V) charts.
EARNINGS

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

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