"After four straight 100-plus-point moves in the Dow, it was
nice to have a catch-your-breath type of day" said Schaeffer's
Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT, as the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
closed with modest losses after notching yet another multi-year
peak. "With the series of automatic spending cuts set to go into
effect tomorrow, we saw very light volume -- it was clear no one
was making any big bets ahead of the sequester."
Continue reading for more on today's market, including
- Why Schaeffer's Senior Trading Analyst Bryan Sapp expects
"a fairly dull end"
to this wild trading week.
- Traders who aggressively bought J.C. Penney Company (
) put options yesterday
as the stock suffered an earnings-related plunge.
- Schaeffer's contributor Adam Warner reminds us that "the
devil is in the details" when it comes to
trading the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX)
- The Dow stops short of making history, the U.S. economy grows
-- barely -- and some Nokia (
) option bulls are in for the long haul.
It was almost an historic day for the
Dow Jones Industrial Average
, which got within 50 points of its all-time intraday high of
14,198.10, which was tagged in October 2007. The blue-chip index
came back to earth in the last two hours of trading, however,
ending down 21 points, or 0.2%, at 14,054.49, just shy of its
intraday low. For the month, the Dow added 1.4%. Just a dozen of
the 30 Dow members were higher on the day, led by Hewlett-Packard (
), which gained 1.9%. Bringing up the rear was Wal-Mart Stores (
), down 1.2% on the day.
S&P 500 Index (SPX)
was lower as well, albeit by a slight margin, off 1.3 points, or
0.1%, at 1,514.68. The
Nasdaq Composite (COMP)
dropped 2.1 points, or 0.1%, to settle at 3,160.19. In February,
the SPX advanced 1.1% while the COMP rose 0.6%.
CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX)
went on a wild ride, dipping to an intraday low of 14.16 before
finishing atop the 15 level, at 15.51. On the day, the VIX added
0.8 points, or 5.3%, while on the month, the fear barometer
expanded by 8.6%.
A Trader's Take
"With all of the concerns and worries out there, February ended
up being a pretty impressive month," observed Detrick. "The Dow is
just a good day away from new all-time highs, and it looks to be
just a matter of time before that happens. Still," he continued,
"we've talked a lot on our trading floor about how the more
defensive Dow is leading and the more aggressive tech and small-cap
areas have been lagging. We'd feel much better about things if the
more aggressive sectors took charge."
3 Things to Know About Today's Market
- The Commerce Department announced the preliminary
, revealing meager growth of 0.1%. While revised from the
advanced reading that showed a 0.1% contraction, the figure was
short of economists' expectations and the slowest growth rate in
nearly two years.
- In "sequester" news, a Republican-led bill to avoid the $85
billion in spending cuts scheduled to descend tomorrow (and
continue through September)
in the Senate.
- The fun continues at Herbalife (
), which gained more than 7% today after billionaire investor
(and prominent HLF shareholder) Carl Icahn handpicked
two new board members
for the supplements company.
5 Stocks We Were Watching Today
- Short-term option bulls
Netflix (NFLX) as the stock muscled higher.
- A conservative Apple Inc. (AAPL) bear sold an
- Bullish Nokia (
) option traders bet on a
in the stock.
- Groupon (GRPN) was
swatted with downgrades
after its disappointing earnings report Wednesday evening.
- Molycorp (MCP) saw
mixed option activity
after postponing its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings
For a look at today's options movers and commodities
activity, head to page 2.
A strong dollar felled oil today, which dropped to a new
year-to-date low. The April contract gave back 71 cents, or 0.8%,
to $92.05 per barrel. Based on the most-active contract prices,
black gold surrendered 5.6% in February.
The rising greenback also took its toll on gold, which was
impacted further by continued strength on the equity front.
April-dated gold dropped $17.60, or 1.1%, to settle at $1,578.10
per ounce. The precious metal dropped just over 5% for the month,
its worst month since May 2012 and its fifth losing month in a
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