After yesterday's modestly negative finish to a generally bullish month, U.S. stocks climbed higher right out of the gate on the first day of March. Early on, Wall Street was able to shrug off an unexpected dip in the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing index, due to a surprise drop in the number of weekly jobless claims -- which landed at their lowest level in four years. Meanwhile, a report highlighting a smaller-than-expected increase in consumer spending for January was eclipsed by an impressive slate of same-store sales from retailers like The Gap (GPS), The Buckle (BKE), and Zumiez (ZUMZ). However, the major market indexes began to falter late in the day, as reports of a Saudi Arabian pipeline explosion sent crude futures above $110 per barrel in electronic trading. Against this backdrop, equities finished north of breakeven, but well below their intraday peaks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA – 12,980.30) reached as high as 13,032.67 right out of the gate, but pared its gains to 28.2 points, or 0.2%, by the close. Among the Dow's 30 blue chips, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) paced the 17 winning components with gains of 2.9% and 1.9%, respectively. Procter & Gamble (PG) led the 12 laggards, with a 1.4% drop, while Cisco Systems (CSCO) was unchanged.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX – 1,374.09) tagged an intraday acme of 1,376.17, but finished with a gain of just 8.4 points, or 0.6%. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP – 2,988.97) outgained its fellow benchmarks, and added 22.1 points, or 0.7%, to settle below its midday high of 2,996.37.
Turning to equities in focus, one shareholder picked up some options-related insurance ahead of The Gap's (GPS) strong same-store sales showing ... Kroger (KR) gapped higher on better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings ... Both Buckle (BKE) and Zumiez (ZUMZ) tagged new highs on promising same-store sales ... MBIA (MBI) and PetSmart (PETM) bucked the broad-market trend higher after they unveiled their respective fourth-quarter results ... Pegasystems' (PEGA) post-earnings rally enticed options players ... and today's Quote of the Day comes from Andrew Schiff, director of marketing for Euro Pacific Capital. Despite a $350K salary, Schiff lamented to Bloomberg about the trials and tribulations he's certain to face, thanks to waning Wall Street bonuses:
"I can't imagine what I'm going to do. I'm crammed into 1,200 square feet. I don't have a dishwasher. We do all our dishes by hand."
But these weren't the only headlines hitting the Street today. Click on the links below for our blog coverage of:
And, in case you missed it, Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick pointed out that a major bullish indicator flew right under Wall Street's radar today. Click here to read Ryan's take on the MACD, and the contrarian significance of today's signal.
For today's activity in crude oil, gold futures, options, and more, turn to page 2.
Mid-Caps Nearing a Triple of March 2009 Lows
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