Stocks Finish Mixed as Fed Rumors Trump Retail Sales

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"Markets can't go up every day -- unless that day is Tuesday, of course," quipped Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "For those of you keeping score at home, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) has been up a record 17 consecutive Tuesdays. I'm not a betting man, but heading into tomorrow, you might not want to bet against the power of Tuesday." For today, however, the Dow gave back a fraction of last week's gains, ending with a loss of roughly 26 points.

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

plus...
  • Retail sales surprise, the Fed plans an end to QE3, and option players forecast a new all-time high for Google Inc ( GOOG ).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) shuffled sideways in a relatively tight range just below the breakeven mark on Monday. By the close, the Dow had given back 26.8 points, or 0.2%, to end at 15,091.68. Thirteen of the Dow's 30 members finished higher, however, with Pfizer (PFE) nabbing the top spot, up 2.3%. Pacing the declining majority was Alcoa (AA), which dropped nearly 2%.

After spending much of the day in the red, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) eked into positive territory by the closing bell. Specifically, the broad-based index ended up less than 0.1 point at 1,633.77. In morning trading, the SPX notched another new all-time intraday high of 1,636.00. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) hit another 12-year intraday peak of 3,447.10 earlier today before closing up just 2.2 points, or 0.1%, at 3,438.79.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) spent much of its day above the breakeven level -- reaching as high as 12.87 -- but settled on a loss, down less than 0.1 point, or 0.3%, at 12.55, just shy of its intraday low.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"After some solid gains last week, U.S. markets held very tough today ... there was a little fear over the weekend, as word leaked that the Fed was considering an exit plan for its $85-billion-per-month bond-buying program," noted Detrick. "I don't really buy this was much more than something to talk about, however, as the news shouldn't come as a shock. More importantly, retail sales for April came in better than expected. Sure, the reading wasn't great, but then again, the economy continues to defy its critics."

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • The Federal Reserve may begin scaling back its monthly bond-buying program , according to an article in Monday's Wall Street Journal . While the precise timing of this shift remains a mystery, central-bank officials have reportedly outlined a plan to begin reducing its $85 billion monthly commitment. (CNBC)
  • Retail sales ticked 0.1% higher in April (on a month-over-month basis), surprising economists, who had forecast a drop in the reading. Particular pockets of growing sales demand were vehicles and home and garden supplies. (CNNMoney)
  • Members of a Dell Inc. (DELL) special board contacted Carl Icahn for specifics on his plan to overtake the company for $12 per share. Mr. Icahn's proposal -- made in cooperation with Southeastern Asset Management -- would keep the PC maker publicly traded. (Reuters)

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) option bulls targeted more upside over the next several weeks.
  2. Bearish Baidu.com (BIDU) traders expect a short-term pullback in the shares.
  3. Can Google Inc ( GOOG ) hit another new all-time high ? Some call buyers seem to think so.
  4. One firm lifted its price target on Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) by 11% to $4 per share.
  5. Molycorp Inc (MCP) option speculators turned bullish in the wake of the company's earnings report.

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 :

Concerns of an end to QE3 combined forces with a rising U.S. dollar to send crude futures south today. At the close, June-dated oil had given back 87 cents, or 0.9%, to end at $95.17 per barrel, the lowest settlement since May 2.

Gold futures also moved lower, turning in their third straight decline. June gold futures settled at $1,434.30 an ounce, shedding $2.30, or 0.2%.

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: CSCO , DE , FB , GOOG , JCP

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