Stocks Unfazed by Early Fed Minutes; S&P Hits New All-Time Peak

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"In the end, it came down to the fact that we are in a bull market," said Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT, of a day that saw both the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) and the S&P 500 Index (SPX) step to new all-time highs. "You can say earnings, Fed minutes, or European gains were behind today's strength. Whatever the true reason, picking a top is a very tough game, and many traders have been trying to do that recently, but they keep getting burned."

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

plus...
  • The S&P 500 hits uncharted territory, the central bank unveils its minutes a few hours early, and bearish speculation continues on Green Mountain Coffee Roasters ( GMCR ).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot higher out of the gate and ultimately pegged another new all-time high of 14,826.66. After giving back some of these gains, the Dow settled up 129 points, or 0.9%, at 14,802.24. Of the 30 Dow components, 26 settled higher, with Merck ( MRK ) leading the way with a 2.9% gain. Pacing the declining minority were Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) and Alcoa (AA), each of which lost just under 1%.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX) was the real index story of the day, however, overcoming its October 2007 intraday high to notch a new high-water mark of 1,589.07. By the close, the SPX was up 19 points, or 1.2%, at 1,587.73. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) had a banner day as well, surging 59 points, or 1.8%, to 3,297.25. In intraday trading, the tech-rich index registered a new 12-year peak of 3,299.16.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) peeked into positive territory ever-so-briefly today, but ended the session off 0.5 point, or 3.7%, at 12.36. This was the fourth drop in five days for the so-called fear barometer.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"Hitting more new highs is always nice, but I was impressed with the small-caps finally leading," noted Detrick. "The higher-beta small-caps have been lagging recently, and were simply decimated last week. So to see them take charge and lead today was a very nice sign under the surface."

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released the minutes from its March 19-20 meeting (a few hours ahead of schedule). These suggested many policymakers expect to reduce the Fed's current rate of asset purchases over the next several months, and could stop the program entirely by the end of the year. (Fox Business)
  • President Obama shared his $3.77 trillion budget for 2014 and emphasized a focus on lowering the deficit while growing the economy. The commander in chief also affirmed he has "met Republicans more than halfway," and implied he is not in a position to compromise further. (CNN Money)
  • To the surprise of economists, China reported a 14.1% year-over-year surge in imports during March, which outpaced the 10% jump in exports. The country netted a trade deficit of $884 million, following a surplus of $15.3 billion the previous month. (CNBC)

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) moved lower today after the stock was initiated with an "underweight" rating this morning.
  2. Back in the news, Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) is seeing long put options in high demand.
  3. Bank of America (BAC) call speculators have high hopes for the rest of the week.
  4. Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) speculators expect continued gains over the next few months.
  5. Bearish stock and option traders continue to bet against Green Mountain Coffee Roasters ( GMCR ) in the wake of its strong price action.

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 futures were slightly higher today, boosted by reports of a smaller-than-expected build in domestic stockpiles. May-dated oil closed up 44 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at $94.64 per barrel.

Gold, on the other hand, endured its steepest one-day drop since November, following a downwardly revised 2013 price forecast from Goldman Sachs. A stronger U.S. dollar also contributed to the precious metal's losses, as June gold futures sank $27.90, or 1.8%, to $1,558.80 an ounce.

SCHAEFFER'S MARKET POSTURE

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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 , C , GMCR , MRK , PFE

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