Stocks Close the Week Higher with a Quiet Session

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) didn't venture far from breakeven today, staying within a 57-point range. By the close, the blue-chip index settled slightly higher, with a respectable gain for the week.

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

plus...
  • Financial earnings start with a whimper, Oracle ( ORCL ) achieves a new milestone, and today's Tweet of the day, which offers one theory on Facebook's ( FB ) upcoming mystery announcement.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) spent a rather quiet day trading around the breakeven mark. The index ended shy of the 13,500 level, up 17 points, or 0.1%. For the week, the Dow closed 0.4% higher. Of the 30 Dow components, half of them closed in positive territory, with Microsoft ( MSFT ) in the lead with a 1.4% gain. At the back of the pack was the Dreamliner-plagued Boeing (BA), which dropped 2.5%.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX) once again narrowly missed a new five-year high and actually closed down a fraction on the day, shedding less than 0.1 point. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) kept pace with the Dow, tacking on 4 points, or 0.1%. For the week, the SPX added 0.4% and the COMP rallied 0.8%.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) continued its descent, closing off 0.1 point, or 1%. On a weekly basis, the index dropped 3.4%.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • Wells Fargo (WFC) was the first of its peers to visit the earnings confessional this morning, ahead of four high-profile names that will report in the upcoming trading days. The results were ultimately mixed. While fourth-quarter profit rose 24% to a new record of 91 cents per share -- two pennies above expectations -- a decline in mortgage lending proved to be a Waterloo, resulting in a negative finish for the shares. Investors were also troubled by a sequential slip in net interest margin to 3.56% from 3.66%.
  • U.S. import prices edged 0.1% lower in December on month-over-month basis, the Labor Department reported today. Economists were expecting an increase of 0.1% for the month. Excluding petroleum, import prices posted a slim 0.1% gain both for December and 2012 overall. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department noted a 15.8% increase in the U.S. trade gap in November, taking it to $48.73 billion. Economists were caught off guard, as they had been expecting a drop in the reading to $41.2 billion.
  • In retail-sector news, Best Buy (BBY) said holiday sales slipped 0.4% to $12.8 billion on a year-over-year basis. The virtually unchanged reading was a pleasant surprise to analysts, who were looking for a decline from the electronics retailer. Same-store sales, meanwhile, were flat domestically and down 6.4% internationally (thanks to weakness in China and Canada), while online sales in the U.S. grew by 10% to $1.1 billion. Putting it mildly, the stock responded well to the news, zooming up 16.4% on the day (and resulting in some very content option traders).

Plus ... Want to compliment Mark Zuckerberg for putting you back in touch with your second-grade boyfriend (or ask what's on tap for that big meeting on Tuesday)? For just $100, you can send a message directly to the Facebook ( FB ) founder's in-box. This takes the recent concept of paying $1 for the right to message non-friends 99 steps further.

Today's Top Tweet :

"Facebook to launch on Mars is the mystery announcement - anything short will be disappointment at this point."
@fundmyfund, (Mark H), 10:51 a.m.

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Option Idea of the Week: OpenTable (OPEN) looks poised to continue its recent trend higher.
  2. American Express (AXP) hit a new multi-year high, attracting the attention of call buyers .
  3. Oracle ( ORCL ) traveled to its highest price since May 2011.
  4. Bullish Chevron (CVX) traders expect a sharp move higher in the coming months.
  5. Starbucks (SBUX) saw its price target lifted by $5 at UBS this morning.

EARNINGS

Question of the Day :

Q : What is a margin call?
A : A margin call occurs when a trader is contacted (typically over the phone) by his broker and instructed to deposit additional cash or securities to cover anticipated or realized losses. It can also happen if a trader's account value falls below a minimum threshold. A margin call is nothing an investor ever wants to experience, and it should be understood that it is a demand, not a request. If investors are unable to come up with the cash or additional securities, brokers have the right to liquidate positions in the account to secure the capital.

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 lost ground on Friday, with the February contract slipping 26 cents, or 0.3%, to end the day at $93.56 per barrel. For the week, oil advanced 0.5%. Likewise, gold futures turned in a negative session, but a positive weekly performance. Gold for February delivery lost $17.40, or 1%, to close at $1,660.60 per ounce. On a weekly basis, the precious metal edged up 0.7%.

SCHAEFFER'S MARKET POSTURE

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: FB , GRPN , LNKD , MSFT , ORCL

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