Eleventh-Hour Sell-Off Sinks Dow Jones Industrial Average

A weaker dollar boosted oil and gold

Mar 23, 2015 at 4:32 PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) stayed positive for most of the session, but a late-session sell-off pressured the blue-chip index into the red. As such, the Dow has yet to notch two straight wins in March. The S&P 500 Index (SPX) finished a wishy-washy session south of breakeven, as did the Nasdaq Composite (COMP). Investors were initially encouraged by oil's ability to surge for a second straight day and a dollar that continued to weaken, with blue chip Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) providing an added boost. For tomorrow, traders can look forward to new home sales and the consumer price index (CPI).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA - 18,116.04) stayed positive until the tail-end of the session, just missing its first two-day win streak since February. At the close, the Dow was down 11.6 points, or 0.1%. Of the Dow's 30 components, 12 ended positive, with PFE's 2.3% gain leading the way. Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD) paced the losers with a 1.2% drop.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,104.42) dropped 3.7 points, or 0.2%, in a late-session dip. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 5,010.97) stayed above 5,000, but lost 15.5 points, or 0.3%.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 13.41) added 0.4 point, or 3%.

CLOSING SUMMARY – INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY – NYSE AND NASDAQ

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. Existing home sales grew slightly in February, with prices jumping by the most in a year, due to the ongoing shortage of properties. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported a 1.2% rise to 4.88 million units, versus analysts' prediction of 4.90 million. (Reuters)
  2. Ted Cruz has announced his plans to run for president in 2016, becoming the first major figure from either party to officially enter the race for the White House. The conservative Texas senator made public his plans to run for the position this morning on Twitter. (MarketWatch)
  3. FireEye Inc (NASDAQ:FEYE) got some help from a sector peer.
  4. Extending last week's gains, Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is likely making some short sellers nervous.
  5. News from the World Health Organization (WHO) took a major bite out of this fertilizer producer.

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

STOCKS – NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITY

STOCKS – NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

Commodities:

Once again, crude got a lift from a lower dollar, shrugging off comments from Saudi Arabia that production will not be cut. May-dated oil added 88 cents, or 1.9%, to finish at $47.45 per barrel -- its highest finish in almost two weeks.

Gold also benefited from the weaker dollar, extending its winning streak to four sessions. April-dated gold added $3.10, or 0.3%, to settle at $1,187.70 per ounce.


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