S&P 500 Hits New All-Time Closing High, Nasdaq Composite Touches 12-Year Peak

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"What can you say, the S&P 500 reached another new all-time closing high (barely)," observed Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "After the market stumbled through a rough patch earlier this month, buyers have stepped up in a big way and we are now looking at a six-month winning streak for the S&P. I also liked to see small-caps leading again today. They've been on a tear of late, and could be sparking the next leg of this bull market." Turning to blue chips, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) enjoyed a triple-digit gain but ended the day shy of a new all-time closing record.

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

plus...
  • Markets start the day with solid gains, pending home sales top expectations, and Nokia ( NOK ) bears jump ship.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) moved higher out of the gate and came within 50 points of its April 11 all-time peak in intraday activity. At the closing bell, the index settled slightly off its highs of the day, up 106 points, or 0.7%, at 14,818.75. Two dozen Dow stocks closed higher on the day, with Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ) and Microsoft ( MSFT ) gaining 2.7% and 2.6%, respectively. Pacing the six underperformers was Boeing (BA), which dropped 1%.

It was a photo finish for the S&P 500 Index (SPX) , which closed at 1,593.61 -- just a hair above its previous all-time closing high of 1,593.37. During the session, the index added 11.4 points, or 0.7%. Tech stocks were the day's outperformers sending the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) up 27.8 points, or 0.9%, to close at 3,307.02. In intraday activity, the COMP pegged a new 12-year high of 3,315.33.


The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) edged higher despite the market gains, adding 0.1 point, or 0.7%, to close at 13.71.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"Europe got things started early, as Italy rallied hard on news they were installing a new government," noted Detrick. "Back at home, housing data came out at 10:00 a.m. Eastern that was better than expected, and that sparked a good deal of buying. Elsewhere, Japan and China were both closed, and overall volume was light today. With the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank decisions on interest rates due out later this week, light volume makes sense."

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • Pending home sales rose a better-than-expected 1.5% last month to their highest level in almost three years, noted the National Association of Realtors. Elsewhere, personal spending and income both ticked up 0.2% in March, noted the Commerce Department. (Bloomberg/USA Today)
  • Ratings services Moody's Corporation (MCO) and McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE:MHP) -- parent of Standard & Poor's -- moved higher today after settling a lawsuit that was headed to trial in two weeks. While terms were not disclosed, the lawsuit was seeking $638 million on behalf of 14 plaintiffs and alleged the ratings firms did not properly disclose the risks behind some mortgage-baked securities. (MarketWatch)
  • Overseas, the markets reacted positively to the installation of Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who named his cabinet members over the weekend. Newly appointed economy minister Fabrizio Saccomanni said he hopes to bring lower taxes and reduced borrowing costs to the nation's residents. (Reuters UK)

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Research In Motion Ltd (BBRY) was targeted by short-term option bulls .
  2. Long-term Nokia Corporation ( NOK ) bears headed for the exits .
  3. With the stock hitting another new annual high, First Solar (FSLR) call buyers continued to bet on further upside .
  4. A strangle buyer expects long-term volatility out of American International Group (AIG).
  5. Sprint Nextel Corporation (S) suffered a downgrade on the heels of impressive price action and strong earnings news.

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 :

High hopes ahead of this week's European Central Bank and U.S. Federal Reserve meetings lifted oil futures today, as accommodative monetary policy is seen as positive for commodity demand. June-dated crude closed $1.50 higher, up 1.6% at $94.50 a barrel, the highest settlement price for a front-month contract in nearly three weeks.

As expectations for additional quantitative easing ramped up, the price of gold followed, while the U.S. dollar weakened. June gold futures added $13.80, or 1%, to close at $1,467.40 an ounce. Gold has moved higher in six of the last eight sessions.

SCHAEFFER'S MARKET POSTURE

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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 , GMCR , HPQ , MSFT , NOK

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