Another Choppy Trading Day Closes a Topsy-Turvy Week

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"There was chatter this morning that Asia and Europe might be seeing another round of quantitative easing sooner rather than later," noted Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell, CMT. "This speculation, along with some decent economic reports, sent most sectors higher throughout much of the day. Interestingly enough, the technology and consumer discretionary sectors took an early lead. Despite the early strength, though, we once again saw a pretty sizable reversal throughout the day, with small-caps struggling to stay above breakeven." The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) zoomed higher out of the gate and close with a modest gain on the day, putting it slightly in the black for the week.

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

  • The "worst IPO" "award," a volatility birthday, and other developments you may have missed during the past week in the markets.
  • Facebook Inc ( FB ) CEO Mark Zuckerberg has big ideas to help expand the reach of the Internet .
  • Is QUALCOMM, Inc. ( QCOM ) headed to new 14-year highs ? This afternoon, bullish traders made bets of this nature.
  • Plus ... Remarks from China's premier spur global relief, consumer spending inches forward, and Microsoft Corporation ( MSFT ) attracts bullish Wall Street attention.
Trading Topic of the Week -- Tips for Buying Weekly Options: Take advantage of affordable hedging opportunities . Weekly options offer an economical way to guard your stock positions against event-related risk.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,323.06) was up more than 150 points at its intraday peak, but pared its gain to 58.8 points, or 0.4%, by the close. Twenty-six of the Dow's 30 blue chips ended higher, led by Microsoft Corporation's ( MSFT ) 2.4% advance. Visa Inc ( V ) led the declining minority with a 1.7% drop. For the week, the Dow edged 0.1% higher.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,857.62) also trimmed its lead in afternoon trading, finishing with a gain of 8.6 points, or 0.5%. After spending most of the session in positive territory, the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,155.76) spent the final 90 minutes of trading flirting with breakeven, but ultimately resolved to the upside, adding 4.5 points, or 0.1%. For the week, the SPX shed 0.5%, while the COMP surrendered 2.8%.


The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 14.41) peeked above breakeven in afternoon action, but finished 0.2 point, or 1.4%, lower. For the week, the "fear barometer" shed 3.9%.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"Despite the rocky afternoon for most sectors," Bell added, "we did see most broad indexes finish in the green. It seems clear the bulls are struggling to gain any momentum to the upside, as selling pressure continued to cap any and all attempted rallies this week."

5 Items on Our Radar Today :

  1. New hopes emerged for China's economic growth, following the release of remarks from China's Premier Li Keqiang. In a speech from Wednesday -- the details of which were reported in the press early Friday -- Li assured investors that future stimulus measures would be introduced to help the economy if needed. "We will launch relevant and forceful measures according to what we have planned in our government work report," he noted. Such measures include accelerating construction on infrastructure projects and increasing trade. (Reuters)
  2. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer confidence index showed a final reading of 80 in March, down from 81.6 in February and below economists' expectations. Also on the consumer front, consumer spending increased at a 0.3% pace in February, due in part to service spending (such as utility payments, which were inflated due to harsh winter weather). Personal income edged higher as well, while the savings rate increased by a fraction, to 4.3% of after-tax income. (Bloomberg; USA Today)
  3. Following a Microsoft Corporation ( MSFT ) announcement that Office would be available for the iPad, the Seattle software giant earned a pair of price-target hikes.
  4. Call buyers have descended upon DryShips Inc. ( DRYS ) options pits, despite the stock's continued underperformance.
  5. Our Option Idea of the Week outlines why Microchip Technology Inc. (MCHP) could be headed higher over the coming months.

EARNINGS

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

STOCKS - NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITY

STOCKS - NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

Commodities :

Oil futures advanced on Friday, amid heightened expectations for global energy demand. The May contract added 39 cents, or 0.4%, during the session, to settle at $101.67 per barrel. Week-over-week, black gold rose 2.2%.

Gold futures continued to lose ground on Friday, as modest gains in the equity market detracted from the metal's safe-haven appeal. The June contract -- which is now the most active among all months trading -- slipped by 50 cents to settle at $1,294.30 an ounce. On a weekly basis, when comparing most-active contracts, gold logged a 3.1% pullback.

SCHAEFFER'S MARKET POSTURE



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction of any SIR publication is strictly prohibited.


This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: FB , QCOM , MSFT , V , DRYS

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