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S&P 500 Approaches a New Record High Despite Mixed Earnings, Economic Data

Global manufacturing data doesn't weigh on markets

by 2/20/2014 4:21:52 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:

"There were a number of weak reports out of China and Europe ahead of the opening bell, which put an early damper on the market," reported Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell, CMT. "But despite the quiet start, the market slowly churned higher throughout the day, and the upward momentum of the past few weeks continued. The jobless claims and consumer price index (CPI) data were both released this morning, as well, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) and major sectors extended their gains throughout the session."

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

Plus ... Consumer prices tick higher, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) opens its wallet, and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) traders maintain a short-term focus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,133.23) motored higher for most of the session, closing up 92.7 points, or 0.6%. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) again led the pack, up 3.4% to pace the two dozen advancers. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) suffered a 1.8% post-earnings plunge, finishing last of the Dow's 30 components.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,839.78) stretched within 8 points of its record intraday high, but settled for a gain of 11 points, or 0.6%. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,267.54) gained ground, adding 29.6 points, or 0.7%.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 14.79) recoiled after yesterday's bounce higher, giving back 0.7 point, or 4.6%, to slip back south of the 15 level.

CLOSING SUMMARY – INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY – NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take:

"Small-cap stocks once again took a leadership role and are right back up near their all-time highs," Bell continued. "The big news today was Facebook acquiring WhatsApp for $19 billion. There has been a lot of discussion about what this means for Facebook going forward, but it's just another example of companies utilizing their cash to go out and acquire companies."

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. Consumer prices edged 0.1% higher in January -- in line with expectations -- and have risen 1.6% on a year-over-year basis. The core index, excluding food and energy prices, ticked 0.1% higher last month as well. Elsewhere, the number of initial unemployment filings declined by 3,000 last week, falling just short of the 4,000 drop expected by economists. (Reuters, CNBC)
  2. Unseasonably cold weather delivered a blow to sales results at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT). The world's largest retailer posted a 21% decline in fourth-quarter profit and issued reduced guidance for the current fiscal year. Also, Wal-Mart lifted its annual cash dividend by 2% to $1.92 per share. (USA Today)
  3. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) said it would shell out $16 billion upfront (and up to $19 billion if certain conditions are met) for startup messaging service WhatsApp. Founded just five years ago, WhatsApp has more than 450 million users, and is currently cited as the most popular messaging app for smartphone users. (CNNMoney)
  4. Today's FB news inspired short-term betting activity on Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) from both bulls and bears.
  5. Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) option bears wagered on a short-term pullback.
EARNINGS

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

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