Stocks Hold Steady as Small-Caps Recapture the Reins

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"With earnings season winding down and the next Fed meeting five weeks away, traders pretty much took today off," observed Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "Nonetheless, there are still some big names set to report earnings this week, so be open to some individual stocks showing volatility." After spending time on both sides of breakeven, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) settled with a minor gain.

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

plus...
    Rising buzz about a big tech IPO, reassuring words from a central banker, and a bullish session for steel stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 15,639.12) traded in a relatively narrow 70-point range before settling on a gain of 23.6 points, or 0.2%. Twenty Dow components ended in the black, led by Exxon Mobil ( XOM ) and its 2.5% gain. Among the 10 decliners, DuPont ( DD ) led the way with a 1.3% loss. The blue-chip index has now finished four of the last five sessions above the 15,600 level.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,767.93) tacked on 6.3 points, or 0.4%, to extend a short-term rise along its 10-day moving average. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 3,936.59) added 14.6 points, or 0.4%, and settled less than 1 point from its intraday peak.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 12.93) turned south, shedding 0.4 point, or 2.6%. This marked the first close below 13 for the "fear index" since Aug. 13.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"Small-caps lagged last week, but bounced back in a major way today," said Detrick. "With the Dow pretty much flat, the Russell 2000 Index (RUT - 1,108.28) was actually up more than 1%. We've seen small-cap strength all year, and don't expect it to end just yet. The recent dip could be yet another nice time to accumulate the strongest group this year. Also," Detrick added, "the action in steel is just eye-opening. Names like United States Steel Corporation ( X ) and AK Steel Holding Corporation (AKS) had huge days, breaking out to new highs. Steel was a big-time laggard all year, but now we're seeing money rotate into this influential group."

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR ) today raised the pricing for Thursday's initial public offering (IPO) to a range between $23 and $25 per share. Now, with a predicted value of $1.932 billion, the microblogging pioneer's debut is on pace to surpass the size of Google's (GOOG) 2004 IPO. (MarketWatch)
  • The Federal Reserve doesn't need to rush headlong into any tapering action , according to St. Louis Fed President James Bullard. "For me, you don't have to be in a hurry because of low inflation," said Bullard in an interview. (Reuters)
  • Steve Cohen's SAC Capital will pay a $1.8 billion fine as part of a guilty plea to criminal insider trading charges, said federal prosecutors. The deal doesn't include any immunity provisions, which means Cohen himself may eventually face criminal charges. (CNNMoney)

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. AK Steel Holding Corporation (AKS) rallied onto the radar of call traders following a Goldman Sachs upgrade to "buy."
  2. An upwardly revised forecast from Canadian Solar (CSIQ) sent the stock soaring to a multi-year high, much to the surprise of option bears.
  3. Long-term calls were active on Ford Motor Company (F) , continuing a broader trend toward bullish bets on the automaker.
  4. One moderately upbeat speculator opened a long call spread on Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) .
  5. With its earnings report just around the corner, NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) was hit by a negative analyst note.

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 :

Oil futures ended higher today, snapping a four-session slump -- if only by the slimmest of margins. Crude for December delivery edged up 1 penny, or 0.01%, to $94.62 per barrel, taking a break from its recent supply-related slide.

Gold futures also advanced, with those accommodative remarks from Bullard helping to stoke some buying interest. December-dated gold climbed $1.50, or 0.1%, to finish at $1,314.70 per 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: BBRY , DD , NOK , X , XOM

Schaeffer's Investment Research

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