Mixed news out of Washington -- on Capitol Hill and from the
Commerce Department -- inspired a choppy day of trading, where the
Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI)
vacillated on either side of breakeven, particularly as the closing
bell approached. When all was said and done, though, the bulls
proved victorious, with the blue-chip index tacking on 18.7 points.
Continue reading for more on today's market, including
Ben Bernanke is flexible, housing starts are dropping, and
General Electric (
) options pits are active ahead of earnings.
Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 15,470.52)
finished a roller-coaster session with a gain of 18.7 points, or
0.1%. Eighteen of the Dow's 30 blue chips settled in the black, led
by DuPont (
), which gained 5.3% on news of a large stake from Nelson Peltz.
Meanwhile, American Express (
) paced the 11 decliners, shedding 1.9%, while Pfizer (PFE)
S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,680.91)
added 4.7 points, or 0.3%, by the bell, marking the index's ninth
gain in 10 sessions. The
Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 3,610.00)
fared the best of the three, advancing 11.5 points, or 0.3%, after
notching a new 12-year high of 3,615.79 earlier in the session.
CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX - 13.78)
surrendered its short-lived perch north of 14, giving up 0.6 point,
3 Things to Know About Today's Market
- Hoping for a clue on the "tapering" front, investors were all
ears as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke
delivered prepared remarks
before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services
Committee. The overall theme expressed was one of flexibility, as
the Fed boss noted that bond-buying efforts are "by no means on a
preset course," and that any decisions to pare back the asset
purchases are dependent on economic factors. Bernanke also noted
that interest rates will hover near zero for the foreseeable
future, assuming inflation remains at bay.
Housing starts dropped
to a 10-month low in June, falling 9.9% from the previous month
to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 836,000. The reading fell
short of economists' expectations. On a year-over-year basis,
however, housing starts grew by 10.4%, according to data from the
- The Federal Reserve's "Beige Book" revealed an expansion in
manufacturing activity at the majority of the 12 regional
districts and a
"modest to moderate pace"
of economic growth overall. This language was unchanged from the
last report, which was issued on June 5.
5 Stocks We Were Watching Today
- Short-term call buyers descended upon
General Electric (
, with earnings due Friday morning.
- Options trading activity spiked on
Tesla Motors (TSLA)
following Tuesday's plunge in the shares.
Micron Technology (MU)
bull placed a large long-term trade.
- After its earnings release,
was greeted with several price-target hikes.
- Hopeful call buyers targeted a long-term recovery in
Barrick Gold (ABX)
For a look at today's options movers and commodities
activity, head to page 2.
In response to a larger-than-expected drop in crude inventories
last week, oil futures muscled higher today. By the close,
August-dated crude had gained 48 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at
$106.48 per barrel.
Gold was not as fortunate, moving modestly lower as investors
digested Bernanke's remarks before Congress. Gold for August
delivery lost $12.90, or 1%, to close at $1,277.50 an ounce.