S&P 500 Index Tops 1,850 to Close at New High

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"It took three days of trying, but the S&P 500 Index (SPX) finally cracked the 1,850 area and closed at a new all-time high," Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT, summed up. "We've been saying we expected this area to be some trouble, but the fact prices were able to consolidate near this area without seeing much of a big dip was a clue that maybe it would give way sooner rather than later. There's an old saying not to short a dull market, and the past three days were pretty dull." Against this backdrop, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) emerged from an early move south of breakeven to close 74 points higher.

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

Plus ... Fed Chair Janet Yellen discusses the weather, Apple Inc. ( AAPL ) speculators act ahead of tomorrow's shareholder meeting, and J.C. Penney Company, Inc. ( JCP ) finally gets some good news.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,272.65) spent a portion of the early morning below breakeven, but gained momentum throughout the day, ultimately closing up 74.2 points, or 0.5%. Verizon Communications Inc. ( VZ ) rose 2.5% to lead the Dow's 22 advancers, while Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) finished last with a 0.5% decline. McDonald's Corporation (MCD) was unchanged on the day.

It was a photo finish for the S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,854.29) , which added 9.1 points, or 0.5%, to muster a new all-time closing high. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,318.93) , meanwhile, neared a 14-year peak once again and settled 26.9 points, or 0.6%, higher.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 14.04) slumped as stocks rallied, but managed to hold north of the 14 level. By the close, the "fear gauge" had slipped 0.3 point, or 2.2%.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"Fed Chair Janet Yellen didn't do anything to rock the boat this morning, and durable goods orders weren't too bad, either," added Detrick. "All in all, the bulls continue to be in control. If new all-time highs for the SPX weren't enough, the S&P 400 MidCap Index (MID) and Russell 2000 Index (RUT) also made new closing highs. The big laggards have been the Dow and the financial sector. Still, things look pretty good here. Sure, there are signs of some froth when you look at the moves in names like Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) and see Facebook Inc (FB) paying $19 billion for WhatsApp, but when you consider short interest on SPX components is near a multi-year high, that shows there is the potential for a lot of short covering to drive things higher over the coming months. Then -- considering March and April have been two of the strongest months going back the past 20 years -- seasonality looks nice here."

5 Items on Our Radar Today :

  1. In weather-delayed testimony before the Senate Banking Committee , Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen noted that recent economic reports were similarly impacted by the polar vortex. Weaker-than-expected data as far as retail sales and home construction "may reflect adverse weather conditions," she noted, "But at this point it's difficult to discern exactly how much." That said, Yellen also implied she feels comfortable maintaining the current pace of tapering, unless future reports also suggest an economic slowdown. (CNNMoney)
  2. Durable goods orders slipped by 1% in January from the previous month, due in large part to reduced demand for commercial aircraft. The core reading -- which eliminates the volatile transportation variable -- rose 1.1% last month , erasing the bulk of December's decline. (Reuters)
  3. Short-term bullish traders pounced on Apple Inc. ( AAPL ) as the iPhone parent prepared for tomorrow's annual shareholder meeting.
  4. On the heels of its fourth-quarter earnings report and 2014 sales forecast, J.C. Penney Company, Inc. ( JCP ) earned a handful of price-target hikes.
  5. Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc (QCOR) remained popular among put traders, as its post-earnings pullback continued.

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 oil prices edged lower on the day, as investors continued to digest yesterday's inventory report and considered Fed Chair Janet Yellen's remarks before congressional leaders. By the close, April crude futures had slipped 19 cents, or 0.2%, to $102.40 per barrel.

Gold futures moved higher, as rising tensions in Ukraine enhanced the precious metal's safe-haven appeal. April-dated gold ended the session up $3.80, or 0.3%, at $1,331.80 an 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.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: AMZN , TGT , AAPL , JCP , VZ

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