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Stocks End Strong Month in Volatile Fashion; S&P 500 Closes at New High

Investors react to multiple economic data points, global developments

by 2/28/2014 4:28:49 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:

"What a wild ride to end the week," exclaimed Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "Everything was great, and we had new highs pretty much across the board. Then news of continued tensions between Russia and Ukraine hit the wires and sent stocks tanking. After some more wild gyrations, we closed mixed on the day." The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) visited negative territory briefly this afternoon before closing well off its intraday high.

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

Plus ... Consumer sentiment improves, Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc's (NASDAQ:QCOR) backslide continues, and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) sees active trading in the front-month series.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,321.71) bounced from a late-afternoon dip into negative territory to close 49.1 points, or 0.3%, higher on the day. While still in negative territory on a year-to-date basis, the Dow gained 1.4% during the past week, and added 4% for the month. UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) rose 1.6% to lead the Dow's 21 advancers, while AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) paced the eight decliners with a 0.9% drop. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) was unchanged today.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,859.45) gained 5.2 points, or 0.3%, to close at another new record high. The index also tagged a new all-time intraday peak of 1,867.92. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,308.12) registered another near-14-year intraday high of 4,342.59, but ended up in the red, down 10.8 points, or 0.3%. The SPX gained 1.3% for the week and 4.3% for the month; the COMP added 1% this week and 5% in February.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 14.00) moved slightly lower on the day, giving back 0.04 point, or 0.3%, to end squarely at the 14 level. The VIX dropped 4.6% this past week and gave back 24% in February.



A Trader's Take:

"February is over, and it was a great month," Detrick summarized. "Funny how four weeks ago all the chatter was about how emerging markets would crash and take down global stock markets along with them. Yeah, about that ... we made new all-time highs on the SPX by the end of the month. Looking out, March is historically one of the stronger months, especially after a strong February. Remember, February is usually weak."

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. The latest gross domestic product (GDP) estimate showed a 2.4% expansion in the U.S. economy for the fourth quarter of 2013. This was roughly in line with economists' estimates, but reflected a notable drop from the 3.2% growth pace projected last month. In the third quarter of last year, the GDP grew by 4.1%. The Chicago purchasing managers index edged up to 59.8 this month from 59.6 in January, securing its first increase since October. The reading exceeded economists' estimates. (Reuters; FOX Business)
  2. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index tracking consumer sentiment rose to 81.6 to wrap up the month, building slightly on January's reading of 81.2. Economists were expecting the measure to hold steady with the preliminary forecast, which was unchanged from the previous month at 81.2. (Bloomberg)
  3. As Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:QCOR) continues its post-earnings tumble, option bears have kept piling on.
  4. Two different varieties of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) options traders set their sights on a pair of front-month calls.
  5. Our Option Idea of the Week examines why Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL) could continue to rally.

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

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