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Stocks Wrap Up First Losing Month Since August

Crude loses steam in January, while gold adds 3%

by 1/31/2014 4:19:12 PM
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"European markets were down quite a bit today, which set a negative tone for U.S. markets in early trading," reported Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell, CMT, of a day that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) move further into the red, ending January with a 5.3% loss. "Most major market indexes are trading around their December lows, which have pretty much defined the bottom of this week's range."

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

  • With earnings due Monday, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) has seen a curious rise in bearish speculation.
  • Joe Bell clues us in to a "better proxy" for betting on home building stocks.
  • In case you missed it... Schaeffer's contributor Adam Warner breaks down many of this year's Super Bowl bets ... from the sublime to the ridiculous.
  • Plus ... consumer sentiment slumps, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) lowers its outlook, and, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is pelted with post-earnings brokerage attention.
Trading Topic of the Week -- Tips for Short-Term Trading: Determine your exit plan in advance. Lay down some ground rules before entering the trade, or you might find yourself paralyzed by a big stock swing -- or, just as dangerous, caught up by fear or greed.

It was back into the red for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 15,698.85) today, which closed with a loss of 149.8 points, or 0.9%, after spending the entire day south of the flatline. On a weekly basis, the Dow relinquished 1.1%, and lost 5.3% in January. Today, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) led the Dow's five advancers, with a gain of 2.7%. Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) was at the back of the pack, shedding 4.1% following its quarterly earnings report.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,782.59) also lost ground, shedding 11.6 points, or 0.7%. Elsewhere, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,103.88) moved lower as well, giving back 19.3 points, or 0.5%. The SPX shed 0.4% this week and dropped 3.6% in January; the COMP peeled back 0.6% for the week and 1.7% for the month.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 18.41) powered through the 18 level to settle north of this mark for only the second time since mid-October. At the close, the VIX had gained 1.1 points, or 6.5%. The market's fear gauge posted a weekly gain of 1.5% and a monthly increase of 34.2%.



A Trader's Take:

"Large-caps and blue-chips once again lagged the market, while home builders and utilities performed quite well," Bell continued. "Right now there seems to be quite the battle between bulls and bears, and today, buyers tried to defend their territory. Bigger picture, we remain in a very tight range, and volatility continues."

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for January dipped 1.3 points from last month's reading, to 81.2, roughly in line with expectations. Also, personal spending in December rose 0.4% to top economists' expectations, and personal income was unchanged. (Reuters; FOX Business )
  2. World's leading retailer Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) issued revised guidance for its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings. Sales may also come in south of estimates, due to Brazil-related expenses, inclement weather, and an adjustment to food stamp benefits in the U.S. (USA Today)
  3. In the wake of its post-earnings collapse,, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) received a handful of brokerage notes from both sides of the fence.
  4. Option bulls continued to bet on additional upside for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), which tagged a new record high again today.
  5. Option bears have pounced on Avon Products, Inc. (NYSE:AVP) as the stock visits new annual lows.

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

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