Markets Settle South of Breakeven Ahead of Fed Minutes

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"We had a few big retailers report earnings this morning, and the results were mixed," said Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell, CMT. "Once again, an early rally gave way to late-day selling, and by the end of the session, markets finished near breakeven." With the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) latest meeting minutes on tap for tomorrow, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) closed in negative territory, after again crossing above and back below the 16,000 level in intraday trading.

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

plus...
    The employment cost index climbed higher for the third quarter, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans made dovish comments, and Salesforce.com, inc. ( CRM ) received some earnings-induced analyst attention.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 15,967.03) spent a portion of the morning north of breakeven, but ended up finishing 9 points, or roughly 0.1%, lower. Chevron Corporation ( CVX ) led the Dow's 14 advancers with a gain of 1.2%, while a 1.3% drop for Visa Inc (V) paced the 16 decliners.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,787.87) charted a similar a path as its blue-chip brethren, but ended up shedding 3.7 points, or 0.2%. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 3,931.55) fell 17.5 points, or 0.4%.

Elsewhere, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 13.39) spent most of the day in the black, and added 0.3 point, or 2.2%, for the session.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"Once again, large-caps stood out above the rest," Bell noted. "The Dow led the way, with financials and healthcare stocks having a nice day. Overall, we still seem to just be taking a bit of a breather after the strong rally late last week."

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • The Home Depot, Inc. (HD) reported a third-quarter profit of $1.35 billion, or 95 cents per share, up from $947 million, or 63 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Meanwhile, revenue climbed 7.4% to $19.5 billion. Economists, on average, were expecting per-share earnings of 90 cents on sales of $19.2 billion. (Bloomberg)
  • The Labor Department said its employment cost index rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in the third quarter -- slightly less than the consensus view. On a year-over-year basis, employment costs were steady, reflecting a 1.9% increase. (MarketWatch)
  • Chicago Fed President Charles Evans was the latest central bank official to weigh in on the topic of tapering . During a speech delivered at the Illinois Bankers Association, Evans said the Fed remains committed to reducing unemployment and adjusting inflation toward the 2% target. Regarding the central bank's current bond-buying program, Evans remarked, "I would say the benefits far outweigh the costs." (Reuters)

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Salesforce.com, inc. ( CRM ) scored a bevy of bullish brokerage notes following last night's turn in the earnings confessional.
  2. Pre-earnings option bears zeroed in on GameStop Corp. (GME) , and scooped up weekly puts.
  3. T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS) saw a surge in call volume, particularly in the January 2014 series of options.
  4. One longer-term spread strategist wagered on a notable move higher for Ford Motor Company (F) .
  5. This particular near-term Facebook Inc (FB) strike attracted another crop of put sellers.

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 :

Crude futures edged higher today ahead of tomorrow's weekly oil supply report. By the closing bell, the December contract tacked on 31 cents, or 0.3%, to end at $93.34 per barrel.

Meanwhile, gold futures turned north after yesterday's Fed-induced loss, as December-dated gold rose $1.20, or 0.1%, to settle at $1,273.50 per ounce.

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: CRM , CVX , JCP , TSLA , TWTR

Schaeffer's Investment Research

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