Dow Jones Industrial Average Nabs Sixth Straight Quarterly Win

The Signal Suggesting the Tech Rally Has Legs

Karee Venema
Mar 31, 2017 at 4:33 PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) spent the entire session trading lower, weighed down by a sharp decline for energy stock Exxon Mobil -- even as oil prices recovered from earlier losses. Following this morning's strong inflation data, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard took a more dovish tone than his fellow central bankers, saying, "This is not an environment where the data is screaming at the Fed that you have to move." While this pressured bank stocks -- and the S&P 500 Index (SPX) -- a late-session burst of selling pressure had the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) snapping its five-session winning streak. Despite the lower finish, the major U.S. benchmarks all notched impressive quarterly gains, with the Dow's sixth straight quarterly win its longest streak since 2006.
 
Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

  • The signal suggesting the tech rally has legs.
  • The drug stock that plunged 25% on Parkinson's patent woes. 
  • The $4 million options trade on Lowe's stock.
  • Plus, a rare batch of options bulls bet on UnitedHealth; BlackBerry earnings impress; and an unusual bearish brokerage note for this airline stock.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA - 20,663.22) gave back 65.3 points, or 0.3%, paring its weekly advance to 0.3%. XOM's 2% drop paced the 21 other Dow decliners, while Intel stock led the nine advancers with its 0.9% gain. For the month, the Dow shed 0.7% -- its first monthly decline since October -- but surged 4.6% in the first quarter.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,362.72) closed the session down 5.3 points, or 0.2%, and the week up 0.8%. While the SPX slipped 0.04% in March, its 5.5% first-quarter gain marked its best quarter since 2015. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 5,911.74) swung to a 2.6-point, or 0.04%, loss in the final minutes of trading, but maintained a 1.4% weekly lead. While the COMP added 1.5% in March, its 9.8% first-quarter gain made it the index's best quarter since 2013.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 12.37) added 0.8 point, or 7.2%. While the market's "fear gauge" slipped 4.6% on the week and 4.3% on the month, it surrendered 11.9% in the first quarter.

closing indexes summary march 31
nyse and nasdaq stats march 31

5 Items on Our Radar Today

  1. SpaceX successfully launched a used rocket into space last night -- a historical feat for the aerospace industry. According to CEO Elon Musk, "It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket. This is going to be, ultimately, a huge revolution in spaceflight." (The Verge)
  2. South African President Jacob Zuma ousted Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan -- sending mining stocks lower and the rand tumbling against the U.S. dollar. This came as part of a broader shift in the country's cabinet, and signals growing political upheaval.  (MarketWatch)
  3. Despite uncertainty surrounding Republicans' attempts at another Obamacare repeal, UnitedHealth stock saw a rare surge in call buying today.
  4. BlackBerry turned in an impressive fourth-quarter earnings report, sending BBRY stock to levels not seen since September.
  5. Though most analysts are bullish toward Alaska Air Group, ALK stock saw its price target lowered at Imperial Capital today.

corporate earnings march 31

unusual options activity mark 31
Data courtesy of Trade-Alert

Commodities

Oil prices extended their newfound lead over $50, even after data showed the U.S. rig count climbed for an eleventh straight week. By the close, May-dated crude was up 25 cents, or 0.5%, $50.60 per barrel, and 5.4% higher on the week. For the month, however, crude oil gave back 6.3%, and shed 5.8% on the quarter.

June-dated gold futures closed the session up $3.20, or 0.3%, at $1,251.20 an ounce, bringing their week-over-week advance to 0.2%. In March, the malleable metal shed 0.2%, but jumped 8.1% in the first quarter.

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