Back to Main

S&P 500 Moves Higher for the Fifth Consecutive Quarter; Yellen Comments Lift Stocks

By: Schaeffer's Investment Research
Posted: 3/31/2014 4:20:00 PM
Referenced Stocks: TSLA;INTC;AAPL;GM;V

"It was a nice day for the bulls on the last day of the quarter," quipped Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "Small-caps -- which had their worst week in nearly a year and a half last week -- bounced back and were up nearly 2% on the session. On the charts, the S&P 500 held the 1,845 area last week, and that was a good sign. Still, this is an extremely busy week on the economic front. Both ISM (services and manufacturing) reports are due, but the big one is on Friday, when we'll hear the monthly jobs data. With so much focus on the economy, expect some potential big moves coming later this week." Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) finished the first quarter slightly lower, the blue-chip index ended the month in positive territory, and closed March on a strong note, up 135 points on the day.

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

Trading Topic of the Week -- Trading Low-Priced Options: DO target smaller stocks with the potential for big gains . It's easy to get caught up in the excitement surrounding big-name, high-dollar stocks like Apple Inc. ( AAPL ). Remember, though -- a small-cap stock trading at $10 per share needs to rise only 10 points to double in value.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,457.66) traded in positive territory for the full session, eventually closing with a gain of 134.6 points, or 0.8%. In March, the Dow added 0.8%, but the index lost 0.7% during the first quarter. Twenty-five of the Dow's 30 stocks moved higher on the day, with Visa Inc ( V ) and United Technologies Corporation (UTX) leading the pack, each gaining 1.8%. The Coca-Cola Company (KO) brought up the rear with its 0.7% drop, and AT&T Inc. (T) was unchanged.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,872.34) also gained ground, sprinting up 14.7 points, or 0.8%. Elsewhere, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,198.99) rose 43.2 points, or 1%, but failed to close north of the 4,200 century mark. The SPX gained 0.7% for the month and 1.3% for the quarter; the COMP lost 2.5% during March but is 0.5% higher year-to-date.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 13.88) gapped lower out of the gate and traded in the red for the entire session. By the close, the VIX had dropped 0.5 point, or 3.7%, to close south of the 14 level for the first time since March 5. In March, the "fear barometer" edged 0.9% lower, but gained 1.2% during the first quarter.



A Trader's Take :

"The Russell 2000 Index (RUT) moved higher for a record seven straight quarters -- something that has never happened before -- wow," noted Detrick. "Two other times, the small-cap index was up six quarters in a row, but it never made it to seven until now. Turning to the SPX, it is now up five quarters in a row for just the fifth time the past 40 years . Be aware that four of those times, the SPX was down the next quarter. Of course, the one time it was up (in the late 1990s), it eventually went up 14 quarters in a row."

5 Items on Our Radar Today :

  1. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen noted that the central bank's "extraordinary" efforts to support the economy -- including asset buying and low interest rates -- may persist for "some time." She also confirmed this opinion was "widely shared" by her fellow Federal Open Market Committee leaders. (The New York Times)
  2. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its Chicago business barometer -- tracking manufacturing activity in the Midwest -- dropped to 55.9 this month from 59.8 in February. The reading fell short of economists' expectations and hit its lowest point since August. Elsewhere, the Dallas Fed reported a notable increase in its general business activity index, to 4.9 in March from 0.3 last month. (NASDAQ; The Wall Street Journal)
  3. Put buyers scooped up back-month puts on Apple Inc. ( AAPL ) , as the iPad parent begins its second courtroom appearance against Samsung Electronics.
  4. Wells Fargo & Co (WFC) scored a price-target hike this morning, on the heels of Federal Reserve approval of the banking giant's capital plan.
  5. Call buyers descended upon General Motors Company ( GM ) in hopes that the automaker will bounce back from recent fundamental woes.


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



Commodities :

Oil futures lost some ground on Monday, as investors digested regional manufacturing data. The May contract edged 9 cents, or 0.1%, lower to settle at $101.58 per barrel. Comparing the most-active contracts, black gold slipped nearly 1% in March but added 3.2% in the first quarter.

Gold continued to decline on Monday, losing value for the fourth consecutive session. By the closing bell, the June contract dropped $10.50, or 0.8%, to land at $1,283.80 an ounce. Gold pulled back 2.9% during March, but jumped 6.8% during the first quarter.