Earnings Optimism Helps S&P 500 Index to Fifth Straight Win

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"After last week's rally, it was nice to see the bulls defend their turf and not give back any of the gains," noted Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "News was light, and so were earnings. It seemed like more a buyers' strike than anything. Still, earnings season hits hard this week, so don't expect too many more slow and boring days like this one." The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) traded in a tight range but finished with a modest gain, bouncing back from Friday's slight pullback. The S&P 500 Index (SPX) , meanwhile, extended its longest winning streak since October.

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

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,449.25) spent most of the session flirting with modest gains, ultimately settling 40.7 points, or 0.3%, higher. Acquisition-related rumors helped Pfizer Inc. ( PFE ) lead the 17 advancing blue chips, adding 2%. The Walt Disney Company (DIS) and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) both lost 1.1% to pace the declining minority.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,871.89) finished higher for the fifth straight session, tacking on 7 points, or 0.4%. Meanwhile, the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,121.55) fared the best of its peers, advancing 26 points, or 0.6%, to notch its fifth consecutive win.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 13.25) started off strong, but backpedaled into the red in afternoon trading. By the close, the market's "fear barometer" shed 0.1 point, or 0.8%.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"Earnings season has fit the bill once again," added Detrick. "Most names to report have beaten the lowered bar. That is pretty much par for the course anymore, though. What could have much more of a market-moving impact is if names start to miss the lowered bar. I'm not saying that will happen, but should it start to transpire, a big move lower could result."

5 Items on Our Radar Today :

  1. M&A rumors hit the pharmaceutical sector , as Pfizer Inc. ( PFE ) is reportedly back in the hunt to acquire AstraZeneca plc (ADR) (AZN), despite a previously rejected $101 billion bid. Sources suggest PFE has its eye on AstraZeneca's line of immunotherapies -- experimental drugs that help bolster a patient's immune system to fight cancerous tumors. (Reuters)
  2. The Conference Board reported its index of leading indicators rose 0.8% last month, exceeding economists' expectations. This was the best monthly result since November, and was a further indication that the U.S. economy is showing signs of life after a winter-weather-spurred slowdown. (Associated Press, via CNBC)
  3. A truce signed between Ukraine and Russia (with aid from the U.S. and European Union) didn't last long , as at least three people were killed during a shootout at an eastern Ukraine checkpoint manned by pro-Russian separatists. Russia and Ukraine officials pointed fingers at the other for instigating the incident. (FOX News)
  4. On the heels of Thursday's first-quarter earnings report and forward-looking guidance, Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. ( AMD ) surged higher in today's trading and earned positive coverage on Wall Street.
  5. Earnings on Deck : What the landscape looks like for AT&T Inc. (T) and Cree, Inc. (CREE) ahead of tomorrow evening's quarterly reports.

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 ended a choppy session in the black, thanks to geopolitical concerns and reports of domestic refinery disruptions. By the close, May-dated black gold added 7 cents, or 0.1%, to finish at a seven-week high of $104.37 per barrel.

On the flip side, gold futures continued their retreat, with the June contract shedding $5.40, or 0.4%, to end at $1,288.50 an ounce -- the lowest close for a most-active contract in nearly three weeks.

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.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: FB , LNKD , MU , AMD , PFE

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