Tech Strength Helps Boost Dow to Another New High


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While the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) pegged another multi-year high today, the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP) commanded the most attention, amid a slew of closely watched earnings reports. "Better-than-expected earnings from Google ( GOOG ) and IBM ( IBM ) sent the stocks higher, which helped give the COMP a leadership role for much of the day," said Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell. "Meanwhile, IBM pushed the Dow higher almost single-handedly," he added.

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

  • The House votes on the debt ceiling, GOOG is targeted by analysts, and a tip for options traders in our tweet of the day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) traded in positive territory throughout the session, hitting a new multi-year high in the process and advancing upon the 13,800 threshold. By the close, the Dow had added 67 points, or 0.5%. IBM was the clear victor among the 12 winning Dow stocks, up 4.4% on the day. Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ) brought up the rear, down 1.4%, and Coca-Cola (KO) was unchanged.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX) spent time on both sides of breakeven but tagged a new peak of 1,496.13 in late-afternoon trading. The index eked out a gain of 2.2 points, or 0.2%, at the closing bell. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP), meanwhile, closed 10.5 points higher, up 0.3% after paring some of its earlier gains.

As investors try to call a top to the recent rally, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) edged higher despite gains in the major indexes. At the close, the VIX was up 0.2%, or less than 0.1 point.



A Trader's Take :

"The market was largely about technology today, with lots of earnings news to digest," Bell observed. "But the much-anticipated debt-ceiling extension was also agreed upon by the House of Representatives. While the deal was widely expected, the proposal calling for the suspension of congressional pay in the absence of a budget deal was a nice public-relations touch," he quipped.

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • The House of Representatives voted today to extend the U.S. debt ceiling and allow the country's government to continue borrowing through May 19. The Senate is likely to follow suit, and President Obama is expected to sign the final version. But even though there is short-term peace, a long-term battle could be brewing. House Republicans have threatened to link the debt-ceiling debate with possible spending cuts. And today Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. -- who was the GOP vice-presidential candidate in the last campaign and is still chairman of the House Budget Committee -- has said the coming debate should include a "big down payment" on the national debt. That means more turmoil and rhetoric could be coming, as well as a potential showdown. The proposal passed today includes the clause that if a new budget does not pass by April 15 in the House or the Senate, policymakers will stop receiving their paychecks.
  • Speaking of fiscal issues in the U.S., a new poll of global investors shows the debt debate is believed to be the biggest risk to the global economy this year. The Bloomberg Global Poll found that 36% of respondents said the ongoing debt-ceiling debate was their biggest concern, 29% percent of investors said the European sovereign debt crisis was the largest threat, and 15% said it was the slowing Chinese economy. But the same poll showed that 38% of the 921 randomly selected investors, analysts, and traders felt the U.S. was the best place to invest this year, followed by China with 31% and the European Union at 22%. And 53% of investors feel the U.S. economy is improving.
  • After Tuesday's relatively strong report on new home construction, housing data remained at the forefront today. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly index, the number of mortgage applications climbed 7% during the week ended Jan. 18, following a 15.2% surge in the previous week. Elsewhere, home prices rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in November, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's monthly house-price index. Compared with November 2011, prices were up 5.6%, but are still well below the peaks reached in early 2007.

Plus ... An increasing number of companies are tired of their employees being tired, and are doing something about it, according to the Wall Street Journal . Companies such as Procter & Gamble (PG) and Goldman Sachs (GS) are setting up programs and even on-site beds to allow workers to get their 40 winks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 30% of all U.S. workers don't get enough shuteye. And one Harvard study estimates that tired workers mean a loss of $63.2 billion in productivity nationally.

Today's Top Tweet :

"In a long options trade, you are at risk of losing 100% of your money. So a 40% win on that is only a 0.4 reward to risk $$"
@Prospectus, (Prospectus), 8:47 a.m.

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Option players were optimistic that Under Armour (UA) would have a quick upturn after its earnings release later this week.
  2. Cisco Systems (CSCO) got a lot of attention in the options pits today following news that it was planning to buy Israeli wireless firm Intucell for $475 million.
  3. Google ( GOOG ) turned in a strong earnings report Tuesday, and received several analyst upgrades today .
  4. Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) got some rare bullish attention from options players today, with call volume nearly twice normal levels ahead of earnings.
  5. The bears were counting on a less-than-stellar earnings report from Juniper Networks (JNPR), however, with more than 20 times the normal amount of puts crossing the tape today.


Question of the Day :

Q : Where can I find out if a particular stock offers LEAPS?
A : LEAPS -- L ong-Term E quity A ntici P ation S ecurities -- are securities that bridge the gap between aggressive short-term option trading and traditional stock investing. One downside to these long-term options, however, is that they are not available on every optionable stock. LEAPS are rolled out when the option exchanges determine there is enough trading demand and the market makers are able to price and trade the contracts. An updated list of equities with open LEAPS series is available here , via the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE).

For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.



Commodities :

Crude futures were lower today, as the newly front-month March contract slipped $1.45, or 1.5%, to $95.23 per barrel. Gold also took a step back as the U.S. dollar gained strength. February-dated gold futures settled at $1,686.70 per ounce, off $6.50, or 0.4%.


At the end of every market day, the staff at Schaeffer's Investment Research reviews the trading day in detail, covering major events and key market developments. Don't miss this critical, timely and insightful report. If you enjoyed today's edition of Market Recap, sign up here for free daily delivery straight to your inbox.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Options
More Headlines for: AAPL , GOOG , HPQ , IBM , NOK

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