Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI)
spent time on both sides of breakeven today, as Wall Street weighed
another round of upbeat housing data against ugly earnings and
global economic concerns. More specifically, solid housing starts
translated into an early boon for stocks, helping to overshadow an
overseas downgrade and an acquisition-related hit to
) earnings. However, a few bulls hit the exits once Fed Chairman
Ben Bernanke took the stage, with the central banker lecturing
Congress on the risks of playing politics ahead of the fiscal
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Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)
explored a range of more than 107 points, topping out just above
12,800 around midday. The index tested its footing in the 12,700
neighborhood after Bernanke took the podium, but ultimately pared
its losses to 7.5 points, or 0.06%, to end a second straight
session atop its 10-day trendline. Among the Dow's 30 components,
Bank of America (
) paced the 18 advancing equities, tacking on 1.5%, while
led the laggards with an earnings-induced slide of 12%.
S&P 500 Index (SPX)
traded on both sides of breakeven, ultimately finishing with a gain
of 0.9 point, or 0.07%, to maintain a perch atop its 200-day moving
average. Likewise, the
Nasdaq Composite (COMP)
erased its intraday deficit in the final minutes of trading, adding
0.6 point, or 0.02%, to notch another win north of its own 10-day
CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX)
ended fractionally lower to settle near a session nadir, marking
its second consecutive close south of 16.
A Trader's Take
"The markets were greeted with a
Moody's downgrade of France
, but shook it off rather well," said Schaeffer's Senior Equity
Analyst Joe Bell. "After a nice bounce back yesterday, the markets
were mixed as we get one day closer to Thanksgiving. With many
participants preparing and traveling for the holidays, a decline in
volume tomorrow would not be a surprise."
Economic and Earnings News
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke thinks 2013 could be a "very good
year" for the U.S. economy -- but only if lawmakers put aside their
differences and reach an agreement to sidestep an imminent fiscal
disaster, and sooner rather than later.
"While the details of whatever agreement is reached to resolve
the fiscal cliff are important, the economic confidence of both
market participants and the general public likely will also be
influenced by the extent to which our political system proves able
to deliver a reasonable solution with a minimum of uncertainty and
delay," said Bernanke, addressing the Economic Club of New York.
"Finding long-term solutions that can win sufficient political
support to be enacted may take some time, but meaningful progress
toward this end can be achieved now if policymakers are willing to
think creatively and work together constructively."
Housing starts rose 3.6% in October to a seasonally adjusted
annual pace of 894,000, said the Commerce Department, surging past
Thomson Reuters' consensus estimate for a downturn to 840,000.
Housing starts haven't climbed that high since July 2008.
Meanwhile, building permits declined 2.7% to 866,000, but still
exceeded economists' expectations for a dip to 865,000.
More Stocks Making News
For today's activity in commodities, options, and more, head
to page 2.
In the Options Pits
Oil futures finished solidly in the red today, as traders priced
in expectations for a Gaza Strip cease-fire. Following two straight
days of gains inspired by geopolitical turmoil, crude for January
delivery dropped $2.53, or 2.8%, to settle at $86.75 per
Gold futures also backtracked, moving inversely to a stronger
U.S. dollar. December-dated gold gave up $10.80, or 0.6%, to finish
at $1,723.60 per ounce.
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