Markets Finish March on Record-Setting Note

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"The S&P 500 Index (SPX) finally did it," said Schaeffer's Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell after the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) and the S&P both touched new records to close the month and quarter with a win. "The SPX finally closed at a new all-time high, joining several of the other major indices in passing this landmark recently. Despite the skepticism toward this market, it continues to defy naysayers and move higher."

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

  • Schaeffer's CEO and Founder Bernie Schaeffer and our trading team on how mid-cap stocks have nearly tripled in value since hitting their 2009 lows.
  • Our Senior Trading Analyst Bryan Sapp dives into why Bank of America ( BAC ) is on its way up .
  • The Option Idea of the Week: Live Nation Entertainment ( LYV ) could continue to climb the charts, despite bearish sentiment.


  • The markets finish a winning month on a record-setting note, Cyprus banks open and soothe nerves, and how options traders looked for an "Easter Miracle" from Apple Inc ( AAPL ).

In a fitting end to another winning month and a strong quarter, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) finished up 52 points, or 0.4%, to close at 14,578.54, hitting a new all-time intraday high of 14,585.10 in the process. The 30-member Dow saw 24 members increase, let by International Business Machines ( IBM ) and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ ), which each climbed 1.1%. Chevron (CVX) led the five decliners, falling 1.1%. Procter & Gamble (PG) was unchanged. For the month, the Dow finished up 3.7%, and gained 11.3% on the quarter. The Dow rose 0.5% on the week.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX) also finished strong by breaking through the previous closing high set in October 2007 and setting a new all-time closing record of 1.569.19. That was a gain of 6 points, or 0.4% on the day. The SPX also was positive for the week by 0.8%, the month by 3.6%, and the quarter by 10%. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP) was up as well, ending at 3,267.52, up 11 points, or 0.3%. The COMP set a new 12-year intraday high of 3,270.30. The quarter saw the COMP up 8.2%, while it gained 3.4% in March and tacked on 0.7% in the past week.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) lost 0.5 point, or 3.4%, to close at 12.70. For the quarter, the VIX dropped 29.5%, losing 18.1% in the month and dropping 6.4% for the week.

A Trader's Take :

"Defensive sectors led the way for most of the day, as health care and utilities were among the best-performing sectors," Bell noted.

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • Banks in Cyprus finally reopened after the bailout deal from the European Union, and the euro responded by climbing on the day. (MarketWatch)
  • The U.S. economy grew ever-so-slightly in the fourth quarter of last year, as the third and last gross domestic product (GDP) report revealed 0.4% growth. This was above the previous estimate of 0.1% but just below economists' most recent forecast. (Reuters)
  • Sprint Nextel (S) and the company seeking to buy the wireless firm, Japanese concern SoftBank, have promised U.S. lawmakers they will not use equipment from Chinese wireless company Huawei in Sprint's domestic network. (The New York Times)

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Apple Inc ( AAPL ) slumped in trading today, dashing the hopes of some bullish short-term traders.
  2. One group of bullish traders was overly optimistic on the post-earnings bounce from Research In Motion (BBRY).
  3. Bullish trades ballooned for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR), with traders taking a longer-term view on the coffee maker.
  4. Red Hat (RHT) saw options traffic surge , with one bearish group betting that a post-earnings swoon would continue into next month.
  5. Bears were out in force on Wynn Resorts (WYNN), despite a recent upturn in the stock.

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

Commodities :

Oil was up for the fifth straight day, with the May contract adding 65 cents, or 0.7%, to $97.23 per barrel. During the past week, the front-month contract surged 3.8%. For the first quarter, black gold jumped 5.9%, most of which was added in March.

Gold fell on fourth-quarter GDP numbers that were revised higher in the final estimate. June-dated gold was down $11.50, or 0.7%, and closed at $1,595.70 an ounce, once again dropping below the $1,600 level. This past week, gold fell 0.6%, and the precious metal dropped 4.8% in the first quarter.

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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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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