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Markets

S&P 500 Notches New Record, Ends Higher for the Third Straight Session

"Today was huge for the bulls, as the S&P 500 Index (SPX) once again closed at a new all-time high," reported Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. "This was the seventh time that has happened this year, for those scoring at home. There wasn't a lot of news out there, but one thing to remember is that April historically is the strongest month looking back over the past 40 years. So seasonality looks very good, and any time a new all-time high is made, that is good also." While the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) didn't make a new all-time high, it got within a chip-shot of doing so, and settled on a 75-point gain.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including

Trading Topic of the Week -- Trading Low-Priced Options DON'T be tempted by the cheapest option available . It may seem like a good idea to keep your entry costs low by purchasing the lowest-priced option available. However, bear in mind that the cheapest contracts are most likely to expire worthless.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 16,532.61) rallied again today, adding 75 points, or 0.5%. At its intraday peak, the blue-chip index was 22.5 points away from its all-time high of 16,588.25. Cisco Systems, Inc. ( CSCO ) led the 19 Dow advancers with a gain of nearly 4%; Travelers Companies Inc ( TRV ) brought up the rear with a loss of 0.8%.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,885.52) hit a new all-time high-water mark of 1,885.84 shortly before closing up 13.2 points, or 0.7%, to register a fresh closing peak. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,268.04) also had a good day, adding 69 points, or 1.6%.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 13.10) continued lower today, falling 0.8 point, or 5.7%, to register its lowest close since Jan. 22.

A Trader's Take

"Tech and small-caps had huge days under the surface," added Detrick. "Remember, those two sectors had horrible performances in March, so today was a nice change. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) data showed the economy is on good footing, and buyers stepped up in a big way. Still, remember the monthly jobs number comes out on Friday, so traders will be getting ready for that big event over the next two days."

5 Items on Our Radar Today

  1. Manufacturing growth expanded in March , as the ISM said its factory-activity index hit 53.7 last month, from 53.2 in February. Results were just shy of economists' estimates. Elsewhere, Markit's final manufacturing purchasing managers index for last month dipped to 55.5 from 57.1 in February. For both indexes, readings north of 50 are reflective of expansion. (Reuters, via Chicago Tribune; Reuters)
  2. Auto sales improved in March, as shoppers returned to the showroom floors after an unseasonably cold winter. Posting the biggest sales increase was Chrysler, which saw its sales rise 13% during the month, surpassing expectations. (FOX Business)
  3. Construction spending edged 0.1% higher in February, following January's 0.2% drop. Year-over-year, spending rose at a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 8.7%. (AP, via ABC News)
  4. Positive news from the Food and Drug Administration sent call buyers sprinting toward the Intuitive Surgical, Inc. ( ISRG ) options pits.
  5. J.C. Penney Company, Inc. ( JCP ) was targeted by longer-term put buyers who were betting on a coming collapse.

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

STOCKS - NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITYSTOCKS - NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

Commodities

Crude oil futures faltered today, slipping south of the $100-per-barrel mark amid concerns over slowing energy demand. By the close, the May contract had dropped $1.84, or 1.8%, to end at $99.74 per barrel.

Gold also retreated, moving lower for the fifth session in a row as equities continued to display strength. June gold futures logged a daily drop of $3.80, or 0.3%, to rest at $1,280 an ounce.

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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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