Dow Wins February; S&P Enjoys Best Month Since '11

Crude notched its first monthly win since June

Feb 27, 2015 at 4:24 PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) declined for a second straight session, as traders digested the latest round of economic reports and speeches from a number of central bankers. Elsewhere on the Street, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) fell for a third consecutive session, while the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) retreated from the psychologically significant 5,000 mark (but not before notching another notable milestone). Despite today's declines, the Dow, SPX, and COMP all gained ground in February -- rising by the most on a monthly basis since January 2013, October 2011, and January 2012, respectively. Meanwhile, crude oil enjoyed its first monthly win since last June. Looking ahead, markets could see increased volatility as jobs data pours in.

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

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 18,132.70) spent the entire session in the red, closing near an intraday low with an 81.7-point, or 0.5%, loss. Twenty-three of the Dow's 30 components headed south, paced by American Express Company's (NYSE:AXP) 2% decline. The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO) led the seven advancers with its 2% pop. For the week, the DJI was 0.04% lower, but for the month, the blue-chip barometer surged 5.6%.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,104.50) surrendered 6.2 points, or 0.3% -- bringing its week-to-date deficit to 0.3%. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,963.53) settled down 24.4 points, or 0.5% -- after earlier hitting a fresh 14-year peak of 4,989.25 -- but added 0.2% on the week. On a monthly basis, the SPX and COMP rallied 5.5% and 7.1%, respectively.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 13.34) shed 0.6 point, or 4.1%, to settle at its lowest mark since Dec. 5. On a weekly basis, the market's "fear gauge" lost 6.7%, and 36.4% on the month.



5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. A trio of Fed officials took to the podium today, including Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer, New York Fed President William Dudley, and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester. Fischer, for example, said he expects interest rates to rise later this year, despite concerns over the Fed's balance sheet. Dudley, meanwhile, said he worries about the negative impact of hiking interest rates too soon, saying risks of doing so "a bit early are higher than the risks of lifting off a bit late." Elsewhere, Mester expressed concern over keeping interest rates low for too long a period, explaining this "would not necessarily yield better economic outcomes." (CNBC; Reuters; GlobalPost)
  2. The latest reading on fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) was downwardly revised to 2.2% from the initial reading of 2.6% -- although it remained above economists' estimates for an annual rate of 2%. Consumer sentiment slipped in February, due to harsh winter conditions, although the metric still remains near eight-year-high levels. Meanwhile, pending home sales soared to their loftiest perch in 18 months.(USA Today; CNBC)
  3. How this long-term trader placed a $6.5 million bullish bet on GE.
  4. J C Penney Company Inc (NYSE:JCP) and Monster Beverage Corp (NASDAQ:MNST) took decidedly different paths in the wake of their quarterly earnings reports.
  5. Is it blue and black or white and gold? How the dress debate took America by storm.

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




Crude oil bounced back today, amid reports that the number of operating U.S. oil rigs declined last week. At the close, crude for April delivery was up $1.59, or 3.3%, at $49.76 per barrel. For the week, black gold shed 2%, but gained 3.2% in February -- its first monthly rise since June.

Gold rose for a third consecutive day, as stocks declined and Chinese buyers continued to re-enter the market. By session's end, April-dated gold was up $3, or 0.2%, at $1,213.10 per ounce. Week-over-week, the malleable metal edged up 0.7%, but surrendered 5.2% on the month -- its loftiest monthly loss since September.


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