Stocks spent most of the session in the red, thanks to
lackluster retail sales data and lingering concerns about falling
off the fiscal cliff. "Volume was very light today, but the selling
is surely the result of continued fiscal-cliff fears," said Senior
Trading Analyst Bryan Sapp. "There are rumblings of a compromise
deal getting pushed through, but most traders seem to think that it
won't accomplish anything." However, solid housing stats kept the
bears in check, with the
Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI)
trimming its deficit by the close.
Continue reading for more on today's market, including
- Capitol Hill coffee cups with a message, bearish betting on
General Electric (
), and a John Wayne-esque session summary in our Tweet of the
Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)
explored a range of 98 points, jumping as high as 13,174.88 in
early trading, and touching an intraday nadir of 13,076.87 around
midday. By the time the dust settled, the blue-chip barometer pared
its deficit to 24.5 points, or 0.2% -- extending its losing streak
to three sessions, and marking the first finish south of its 20-day
moving average since Nov. 27. UnitedHealth Group (
) led the 17 declining blue chips, swallowing a loss of 1.2%, while
Bank of America (
paced the 13 advancers with a 2.6% gain.
S&P 500 Index (SPX)
also surrendered an early lead, giving up 6.8 points, or 0.5%, to
end beneath its own 20-day trendline for the first time since Nov.
21. Turning to tech, the
Nasdaq Composite (COMP)
fared the worst of its peers, falling 22.4 points, or 0.7%, to
20-day trendline for just the second time in five weeks.
The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX), on the other hand, ended
decisively higher. By the close, the market's "fear barometer"
added 4.8% to finish at its loftiest perch since late July.
A Trader's Take
"Stocks with heavy exposure to China and Japan are holding up
very well," noted Sapp. "This includes steel, coal, rare earths,
and tech names like Baidu (
), Youku Tudou (YOKU), and Sohu.com (SOHU). At this point, fears of
the China bubble seem overblown, and should its economy stabilize,
it could help lead us into a period of growth."
3 Things to Know About Today's Market
- President Barack Obama is flying back to Washington, D.C.,
tonight, cutting the holiday break short on Capitol Hill. The
U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a scaled-down budget proposal
backed by Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.,
sometime tomorrow. With 53 Democrats seated, no fewer than seven
Republicans would have to go against party lines in order to
clear a filibuster.
- The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index fell 0.1%
in October on an unadjusted basis, but rose 0.7% after seasonal
adjustments. On a year-over-year basis, the 20-city index
improved 4.3%. The report topped economists' expectations, which
called for an adjusted monthly rise of 0.5% and an annual gain of
- The MasterCard Advisors Spending Pulse report showed
domestic retail sales growth
of just 0.7% in the two months preceding Christmas -- marking the
weakest growth rate since 2008, and falling woefully short of
expectations for 3% to 4% growth.
... With less than a week to go before we fall off the so-called
"cliff," Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) had a message for Congress.
CEO Howard Schultz asked baristas in over 100 D.C. and Virginia
stores to write "Come Together" on all coffee cups on Thursday and
Friday. "Rather than be bystanders, you and your customers have an
opportunity -- and I believe we all have a responsibility -- to
send our elected officials a respectful but potent message, urging
them to come together to find common ground," Schultz wrote to
employees this morning.
Today's Top Tweet
"Holiday trade continues ... just saw a tumbleweed roll through
, 10:16 a.m.
5 Stocks We Were Watching Today
- General Electric (
) garnered attention from
short-term option bears
- Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) was
popular among call buyers
- Molycorp (MCP) traders gambled on
more near-term gains
- Skeptical speculators swarmed swooning
- Fellow retailer
fell to a new annual low.
Question of the Day
: What is an American-style option?
: American-style options can be exercised at any time before
expiration day, from the moment the option is purchased or sold.
All standard exchange-listed equity options are American style,
while many indexes are European style, meaning they can only be
exercised at a predetermined time (generally at expiration).
For a look at today's options movers and commodities
activity, head to page 2.
Oil futures bounced back, thanks to revived geopolitical
tensions in the Middle East and a softer U.S. dollar. Crude for
February delivery gained $2.37, or 2.7%, to settle at $90.98 per
barrel -- its loftiest close in more than two months. Gold futures
also advanced, as February-dated gold edged up $1.20, or 0.1%, to
close at $1,660.70 per barrel.
At the end of every market day, the staff at Schaeffer's
Investment Research reviews the trading day in detail, covering
major events and key market developments. Don't miss this
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