Tech Rallies, Dow Ends Flat, as Earnings Dominate Headlines

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"It was nice to see some strong earnings from the tech sector, as reports from both Apple Inc. ( AAPL ) and Facebook Inc ( FB ) were very solid," observed Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "All we've heard lately is how tech could be in a bubble. Well, one major difference between now and 2000 is tech companies are growing and making a lot of money. Then throw in a strong durable goods report, and the economy continues to show signs of improvement, even as so many expect it to falter now that quantitative easing is slowing." In today's trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) danced around the breakeven level for much of the trading day before finishing the session unchanged.

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

Trading Topic of the Week -- 5 Reasons to Dodge Directional Risk: Capitalize on expected volatility spikes . There are several technical and sentiment indicators that can tell you whether a stock is on the verge of some major volatility -- including Bollinger Bands and high levels of short interest.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,501.65) traded as high as 16,541.26 and as low as 16,452.30 before ultimately ending the day right where it started. Half of the blue-chip index's components moved higher today, led by Caterpillar Inc.'s (CAT) 1.8% advance. Meanwhile, Intel Corporation (INTC) settled flat, while Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) logged a 2.4% loss to pace the 14 decliners.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,878.61) was in positive territory for most of the session, but added just 3.2 points, or 0.2%, by the close. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,148.34) was powered higher on earnings news, gaining 21.4 points, or 0.5%, by the closing bell.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 13.32) edged higher, adding 0.05 point, or 0.4%, marking its second consecutive gain.

CLOSING SUMMARY - INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY - NYSE AND NASDAQ

A Trader's Take :

"Tech led the way today thanks to AAPL, but the other major indexes were flat on the day," added Detrick. "When you consider the recent six-consecutive-day bounce, two days' worth of pauses isn't a bad thing. Technically speaking, the SPX is up near the March peak around 1,888, so some type of a breather right here makes sense. Tonight is another huge one on the earnings front, so be ready for a lot of individual stock volatility tomorrow."

5 Items on Our Radar Today :

  1. AAPL was the talk of the Street today, after Wednesday night's earnings report . Quarterly sales topped analysts' expectations on healthier-than-expected iPhone sales. The company also lifted its quarterly dividend by 8% to $3.29 per share and amplified its buyback program. Finally, Apple announced plans to split its stock 7 for 1 -- the first AAPL split since February 2005. (Associated Press, via ABC News)
  2. Durable goods rose by a more-than-expected 2.6% in March, following a 2.1% jump in February. Demand showed improvement across all categories. In other news, initial jobless claims rose by 24,000 during the week ended April 19. This was a larger increase than economists were expecting, but was partially attributed to the late Easter holiday. (FOX Business)
  3. Unrest in Ukraine escalated today, following the death of five pro-Russian militants. Russia was quick to act, and began conducting military drills near the Ukraine border. The U.S. and NATO have already challenged the presence of roughly 40,000 Russian troops congregating near this border. Meanwhile, speaking from Tokyo, President Barack Obama warned that further sanctions could be levied against Russia if it does not comply with an earlier agreement regarding the illegal actions of militia members. (CNN)
  4. Longer-term options bulls targeted Pandora Media Inc (P) ahead of the stock's earnings report this evening.
  5. Put buyers are betting on a pullback in Intel Corporation (INTC) shares over the next few months.

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 bounced higher on concerns about how continued tension in Ukraine may impact energy prices. The June-dated crude contract tacked on 50 cents, or 0.5%, to end the session at $101.94 per barrel.

Geopolitical concerns also helped boost gold, as investors were drawn to the yellow metal as a safe haven. Gold for June delivery rose $6, or 0.5%, to close at $1,290.60 an ounce, the highest settlement price in a week.

SCHAEFFER'S MARKET POSTURE



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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , FB , NFLX , F , CL

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