After the Close - The mood on Wall Street was broadly positive today, although the major averages ended mixed. At the close, the Dow Industrials was up 47 points, retaking the 14,000 level, but the NASDAQ was off six points. Market breadth provided a truer indication of the upbeat sentiment, with nearly two stocks rising for every one falling on the New York Stock Exchange. Many more stocks hit fresh 52-week highs than lows, as well, suggesting the market is still in an uptrend.

Investors are relieved that a couple of major worries, in the form of the European debt crisis and the battles over the debt ceiling and government spending on these shores, have receded. True, those headaches could resurface, but so far this year it has generally been smooth sailing for traders. 

Notably, the day’s gain on the Dow would have been greater except for weakness in Coca-Cola (KO Free Coca-Cola Stock Report) stock. Coke shares fell after earnings failed to live up to expectations, although it should be noted that the company’s share net rose on higher volume. The selloff is likely to invite buy-on-the-dip investors, since the beverage maker still maintains one of the most well-established brands in the world and its stock offers an above-average dividend yield.

Stocks of several other companies reporting earnings fared better, though, including building materials supplier Masco (MAS), cosmetics maker Avon Products (AVP), and apparel maker Michael Kors Holding (KORS).

At the sector level, there were winners all around, with the exception of technology, where shares of Apple (AAPL) led the way down. For several years, if there was one stock to own, it was Apple, as the company’s new-age phones and tablet computers became must-have items. Now, though, some market pros are looking at Apple as more of a value stock than a growth vehicle. Shares of Qualcomm (QCOM) also backed off in the tech space.

On the plus side, the financials did very well in today’s session, including shares of Bank of America (BAC Free BofA Stock Report) and Citigroup (C).

Tomorrow brings a reading on retail sales for January, where a slight advance is expected. January saw the end of the payroll tax holiday, which created a $3 billion budget surplus last month for Uncle Sam. But the move also likely crimped retail spending.

Earnings-wise, reports are due out from Dow component Cisco Systems (CSCO Free Cisco Stock Report), cable TV operator Comcast (CMCSA), farm equipment manufacturer Deere (DE), and insurer MetLife (MET). Positive comparisons are projected in each case.  - Robert Mitkowski

At the time of this writing, the author did not have positions in any of the stocks mentioned.       


12:20 PM EST - The U.S. stock market got off to a mixed start this morning, but is now improving. At just past noon in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which is showing some leadership, is up 33 points (0.2%). In the large-cap average, shares of Bank of America (BAC - Free Bank of America Stock Report) are rising, while Coca-Cola (KO - Free Coca-Cola Stock Report), which reported results, is off sharply. Elsewhere, the broader S&P 500 Index is ahead by just one point; and the technology-heavy NASDAQ  is slipping six points (-0.2%), on weakness in Apple shares (AAPL). Notably, the small cap Russell 2000 Index is up nicely today and that may suggest that some bargain hunting is going on in the overlooked names. Market breadth is favorable, with advancing stocks ahead of decliners by a small margin on the NYSE. Most of the market sectors are advancing, with large gains in the financial names. The capital goods issues are also making progress. However, there is significant weakness in the technology space. The high-yielding utilities, which have been laggards for some time, are also lower today.

Technically, the S&P 500 Index has been consolidating just above the 1,500 mark for the past several sessions. This is to be expected, as the market has staged a large run-up over the past few months. Traders may need some time to digest recent gains, and get acclimated to the market at the current levels. Notably, there has been little real profit taking, in the form of a market selloff, for quite some time.

In economic news, there were no notable reports released this morning. However, traders may be looking ahead to the President’s State of the Union address slated for tonight. Importantly, the country, having just averted the “fiscal cliff”, still must deal with its lingering issues. It should be noted that excessive media coverage of these matters could play on investor sentiment.

Meanwhile, fourth-quarter earnings season is coming to a close. Most of the big names have already reported, and we are now hearing from the lesser-known small-cap companies. Today, we heard from Michael Kors (KORS). That issue is moving sharply higher, after the apparel company put out better-than-expected profits, on a dramatic top-line advance. Also, Masco (MAS) stock is moving higher, after the home-building supply company issued a solid quarterly report. However, business does not look as promising for Goodyear Tire (GT) and those shares are falling on a cloudier outlook.

At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.


Stocks to Watch from The Survey After a fairly quiet day on the earnings front yesterday, investors will have their plates full today. Beverage giant and Dow-30 component Coca-Cola (KOFree Coca-Cola Stock Report) is arguably the most high-profile company reporting today, and its stock is down just slightly in the premarket. Other stocks moving lower ahead of the bell on earnings news include ATM manufacturer Diebold (DBD), tire and rubber producer Goodyear (GT), and S&P parent McGraw-Hill (MHP). On the other hand, the stocks of apparel and accessories retailer and wholesaler Michael Kors (KORS) and cosmetics company Avon Products (AVP) are moving sharply higher in pre-market trading. Shares of watch and accessories company Fossil (FOSL) and television and movie producer and distributor Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF) are trading modestly higher ahead of the bell. – Matthew E. Spencer

At the time of this article’s writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.


Before The Bell - U.S. stocks largely marched in place yesterday, with just a small bias to the downside, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average again flirted with the magical, and suddenly elusive, 14,000 level, only to fall modestly short once more. In all, that 30-stock composite of large-cap issues pulled back by 22 points, to end matters at 13,991. The Standard and Poor's 500 Index eased by less than a point, while the NASDAQ nudged a trifle lower, losing less than two points, or 0.06%. Notably, yesterday was the lightest trading day of the year thus far.

The major issues pushing the market lower yesterday were the energy stocks. That group has been among the strongest sectors in the market so far in 2013, on spiking oil prices. But lower energy stocks were not all that Wall Street had to grapple with in the week's opening session. There also was a sharp drop in the share price of drugmaker Novo Nordisk (NVO), which tumbled 27 points, or 14%, after the FDA said that it needed more data before it could approve the company's new drug Tresiba. Stocks in Europe, where Novo Nordisk is domiciled, also were somewhat lower on a generally light news day.

Now, a new day dawns and unlike yesterday, this session will be long on news and anticipation. To wit, there will be a number of speeches by members of the Federal Reserve, an occurrence that can often keep investors on edge. According to press reports, some of the bigger opponents of quantitative easing will take the podium. One such Fed voting member will be Esther George. Also, later on in the day Fed members Charles Plosser and Jeffrey Lacker will provide a glimpse into their sentiments at the current time.

Then, this evening, President Barack Obama will give his annual State of the Union address before both houses of Congress. The markets will want to see if there is anything new on the President's agenda. Of note, we are winding down to the deadline for spending reductions that are mandated, but which have not been dealt with as yet. If the tax debate, which went down to the 11th hour late last year is any guide, we have some fierce negotiating still ahead of us over the next fortnight.

Meanwhile, there is little of note on the agenda today, but we will get the economic ball rolling tomorrow, when the Commerce Department reports on January retail sales. A nominal increase of 0.1% is the expectation at that time. In December, for comparison purposes, the government reported a solid 0.5% advance in such consumer-related activity.

The business beat will then continue on Thursday with weekly jobless claims and conclude on Friday with Commerce's reports on industrial production and factory usage. Slight improvements are forecast in both series, as the economy meanders along on a slowly winding, and seemingly forward, first-quarter path.

As to the equity markets this morning, the trading is just slightly positive in Europe, but on our shores, the situation is mixed, with the S&P 500 Index futures up nominally, while the NASDAQ futures are just narrowly in the red, presaging what appears to be a likely unprepossessing opening to the trading day in less than an hour from now. The 14,000 mark on the Dow Jones Industrials has been a tough one to surmount, but we sense that sometime in the coming days the bulls will mount a successful charge, and perhaps stay above that elusive target for more than a few hours as was the case during its recent move to that psychologically important plateau.

At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.