Dow Takes a Breather, Drops 75 Points

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"After six straight up days [in the S&P 500 Index], the market was due for a breather," noted Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist, Ryan Detrick, CMT. Indeed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) consolidated lower right out of the gate. A flicker of buying power in the final hour of trading proved to be a false start, as the index closed below 13,200.

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

plus...
  • The latest developments in the fiscal-cliff negotiations, a recap of five newsworthy stocks, and our Tweet of the day, which would make Rod Tidwell cry.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) moved lower for a second consecutive session, giving back 75 points, or 0.6%. At its lowest point of the day, it's worth noting, the blue-chip average was off more than 98 points. Just five Dow names managed to escape the selling. Caterpillar ( CAT ) enjoyed a 0.5% gain, leading the pack, while Merck ( MRK ) shed 2% to pace the lagging majority.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX) saw a similar pattern, slumping 9 points, or 0.6%. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) , meanwhile, gave back 22 points, or 0.7%, to bring up the rear among its sector peers. While the Dow and the SPX managed to stay atop their 10-day moving averages, the COMP closed on the south side of this trendline.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) retook the 16 level today, rising 0.6 point, or 3.5%.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"There wasn't any specific reason the market dropped today," Detrick opined. "It was a slow news day after the Fed, but I was impressed with the solid weekly initial jobless claims number." He continued, "We all know the concerns out there -- I'm talking to you, fiscal cliff -- but to see initial claims under 350,000 is a huge step in the right direction. Now the key will be... can the number stay below this threshold?"

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • Initial jobless claims dropped by 29,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 343,000. This was better than analysts' consensus estimate for a smaller decline to 367,000. Meanwhile, retail sales expanded by 0.3% in November, falling shy of the 0.5% increase expected by economists.
  • As another day passed ahead of the year-end fiscal cliff deadline, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, vocalized his escalating frustration with President Barack Obama and other members of the Democratic party. "Raising tax rates will hurt small businesses," he argued, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, countered, "At some point, reality should set in." A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC survey revealed that 75% of Americans (and 61% of Republicans) would stomach higher taxes to sidestep the fiscal cliff.
  • Sprint Nextel ( S ) is willing to spend $2.1 billion to acquire the 49% stake in Clearwire Corporation ( CLWR ) it does not already own. This is likely just a jumping-off point for negotiations, as analysts predict CLWR shareholders will reject the offer, which values the stock at 5% above CLWR's Wednesday close.

Plus ... Frito-Lay -- a division of PepsiCo (PEP) -- has introduced cola/chicken-flavored potato chips , which are reportedly "vaguely similar to barbecue with a sugary aftertaste." Unfortunately (or not), the novelty snack will only be sold in China.

Today's Top Tweet :

"Shorting this market must feel like being an Arizona Cardinals fan. Someday, it's gotta happen. Right?"
@EddyElfenbein, 11:13 a.m.

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Google (GOOG) call sellers hoped to net a quick profit using weekly options.
  2. Apple Inc. (AAPL) offered a mea culpa of sorts as it brought Google Maps back to the app store. Meanwhile, bullish options traders remained confident .
  3. Beleaguered Zynga (ZNGA) continues to see bullish options activity.
  4. Oppenheimer upped its price target for Visa (V) to $170 from $150 amid strong price action from the credit-card heavyweight.
  5. Walt Disney (DIS) may be poised to climb a "wall of worry" higher.

STOCKS - EARNINGS

Question of the Day :

Q : What does it mean if a stock is considered "hard to borrow"?
A : If a stock is on the hard-to-borrow (HTB) list, it is in short supply or can no longer be lent by brokers for short-selling purposes. As a result, a broker's clearing firm must typically use a third party to locate the shares. Additional fees are required for this service, which are then passed on to the brokerage customers. There are different reasons stocks may become hard to borrow, including takeover situations or solvency concerns. Also, some stocks do not have a sufficient "float" (shares available for public trading) to allow for short selling. The list of HTB stocks may vary by brokerage, so contact your advisor for information regarding specific equities.

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

STOCKS - NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITY

STOCKS - NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

Commodities :

After touching a one-week high on Wednesday, January-dated crude gave up 88 cents, or 1%, to finish at $85.89 per barrel. Gold futures also lost ground, as the February contract dropped $21.10, or 1.2%, to end at $1,696.80 per ounce.

SCHAEFFER'S MARKET POSTURE

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 critical, timely and insightful report. If you enjoyed today's edition of Market Recap, sign up here for free daily delivery straight to your inbox.



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: CAT , CLWR , INTC , MRK , S

Schaeffer's Investment Research

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