Stocks End Higher as Investors Celebrate the Start of Earnings Season

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"After two straight down days, we saw a slight bounce today, as earnings across the board came in better than expected," reported Schaeffer's Senior Technical Strategist Ryan Detrick, CMT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) enjoyed positive territory throughout the session, reaching as high as 13,416.55 before ultimately settling about 0.5% higher. Meanwhile, the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) broke its losing streak.

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

  • Why shares of this natural gas firm could be pressured lower, according to research from Senior Options Strategist Tony Venosa, CMT.
  • Could a market top be here? Senior Trading Analyst Bryan Sapp reviews the significance of a bull flag formation .
  • Schaeffer's contributor Adam Warner explains how a rapidly falling VIX can only have "two possible explanations."


  • A new leader for the U.S. Treasury, high hopes for Ford Motor (F), and some Tweet-of-the-day advice that extends to all areas of life.

The bulls took the reins once again, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) muscled higher, closing up 0.5%, or 62 points. Eighteen of the 30 Dow components traded higher on the day, led by Boeing ( BA ), which bounced back from yesterday's drubbing to gain 3.6%. Bringing up the rear, meanwhile, was Bank of America ( BAC ), which pulled back 4.6%.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX) added 3.9 points, or 0.3%, on the day, while the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) kept pace with its index peers, rising 14 points, or 0.5%.

The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) broke its six-session losing streak with a modest gain of 0.2 point, or 1.4%. Earlier in the session, however, the index recorded a new multi-year low of 13.22.


A Trader's Take :

"Alcoa ( AA ) got the headlines today, but I'm more impressed by what was going on under the surface. Danaher (DHR) is a company three times the size of AA, and they upped their fourth-quarter guidance," Detrick noted. "At the same time, Seagate Technology ( STX ), Constellation Brands ( STZ ), and Stryker (SYK) all had positive things to say about earnings. When you consider just how low some of the overall expectations are as we begin this earnings season," he added, "one has to wonder if the analysts have once again become too bearish. This will make it much easier for companies to clear the lowered earnings bar."

3 Things to Know About Today's Market :

  • President Barack Obama reportedly plans to nominate current White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew to the U.S. Treasury secretary role currently held by Timothy Geithner, who wishes to exit the position by mid-month. An anonymous source broke this news today ahead of the official nomination, which is expected to come as soon as tomorrow. Mr. Lew, 57, has a long history in Washington, serving as aide to Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill in the 1980s and budget advisor to President Clinton in the 1990s.
  • As quickly as they started, reports that American International Group (AIG) would latch on to a shareholder lawsuit against the U.S. government were laid to rest. The board met today and decided against taking part in the $25-billion suit, which was originally filed by former AIG CEO Maurice "Hank" Greenberg.
  • Morgan Stanley (MS) said it will reduce its staff by 6%, eliminating 1,600 jobs due to current "market conditions." While all divisions of the investment banking firm will be impacted, the more senior ranks will suffer a larger collective hit. Once these reductions have been implemented, the MS workforce will be 10% smaller than it was in September 2011.

Plus ... a cryptic invitation from Facebook Inc (FB) has ignited the rumor mills. A media invite to "Come and see what we're building" has led to speculation about a FB phone, despite CEO Mark Zuckerberg's assertions to the contrary. Other theories are a new search function or an updated privacy policy. All will be revealed next Tuesday morning at the company's Menlo Park, Calif. campus.

Today's Top Tweet :

"Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong."

@idillionaire, (idil), 7:40 a.m.

5 Stocks We Were Watching Today :

  1. Ford Motor (F) option bulls expect the stock to hit a new annual high within the next six months.
  2. Speculators opened both calls and puts on EMC Corporation (EMC).
  3. J.C. Penney (JCP) was swatted with a brokerage downgrade this morning.
  4. In the wake of its disappointing earnings report, Apollo Group (APOL) saw increased demand for put options .
  5. Bullish option buyers were not deterred by Nokia Corporation's (NOK) recent move lower.

Question of the Day :

Q : What does arbitrage mean?

A : Arbitrage is a trader's attempt to take advantage of minor price differences between markets in order to generate a profit. For example, due to fluctuations in the foreign exchange rate, a stock could trade at a slightly different price overseas than it does at home. To create an arbitrage (or "arb") opportunity, the trader could buy shares at the lower price, then quickly turn around and sell them at the higher price. Fast-moving markets create a risk for even the most seasoned arbitrage traders, however, as prospects can quickly vanish before both parts of the trade are executed.

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


Commodities :

Oil futures continued to edge lower today, with the February contract shedding 5 cents, or 0.05%, to $93.10 per barrel. Gold futures were in the red as well; February-dated gold surrendered $6.70, or 0.4%, to settle at $1,655.50 an ounce.


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.

All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction of any SIR publication is strictly prohibited.

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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