Dow Jones Industrial Average Notches Monthly Win, Despite Late Sell-Off

3 Stocks That Could Be Cooking Up a March Rally

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Feb 29, 2016 at 4:23 PM

A midday surge on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was relatively short-lived, as stocks sold off in afternoon trading -- despite a rally in crude oil prices and fresh stimulus measures overseas. However, the Dow still finished higher on the month -- its first monthly gain since November. Meanwhile, things were fairly bleak on the economic front, as pending home sales unexpectedly fell and the Chicago purchasing managers index (PMI) plunged more sharply than forecast.


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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA - 16,516.50) sold off late in the session and finished down 123.5 points, or 0.7%. Just five Dow components ended in the green, led by a 1.2% advance at Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT). Among the 25 losers, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) was worst off, shedding 2.2%. For the month, the Dow edged 0.3% higher.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,932.23) settled on a loss of 15.8 points, or 0.8%, resulting in a 0.4% month loss. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,557.95) shed 32.5 points, or 0.7%, to end February down 1.2%. It was the third straight monthly loss for both the SPX and COMP.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 20.55) popped 0.7 point, or 3.7%, for its second straight monthly close atop the 20 level. Taking February as a whole, the market's "fear gauge" added 1.7%.

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5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said today a "very bad earpiece" was to blame for his failure to disavow support from Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke over the weekend. His opponents were quick to respond, with rival Marco Rubio remarking, "You say, 'David Duke' to me, I say, 'racist,' immediately. Why wouldn't [Trump] condemn the Ku Klux Klan?" (USA Today; CNN)

  2. For the first time ever, Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has acknowledged that it bears "some responsibility" after one of its autonomous cars hit a city bus in Mountain View, California, earlier this month. The self-driving vehicles have been involved in nearly 20 traffic accidents to date, but until the aforementioned incident, the fault was always laid on the other driver or the GOOGL test driver steering in manual mode. (Re/code)

  3. While one biotech bolted higher on upbeat analyst attention, not all of its sector peers were so lucky.

  4. How Warren Buffett sparked a round of bullish betting on American Express Company (NYSE:AXP).

  5. Why now may be a good time to own stocks.

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Data courtesy of Trade-Alert

Commodities:

Crude futures soared after Saudi Arabia's cabinet said it is committed to working "with all main producers in an attempt to limit volatility" on the commodity. On a related note, a Reuters poll suggested the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reduced output in February relative to January. As such, April-dated oil futures settled 97 cents, or 3%, higher at $33.75 per barrel. Taking a step back, crude advanced just 0.4% for the month.

Gold notched its best month in four years, soaring 10.6% as broad-market uncertainty increased the precious metal's safe-haven appeal. Today, April-dated gold tacked on $14, or 1.1%, to close at $1,234.40 per ounce, as stocks continued to struggle.


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