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Stock Market News for February 19, 2013

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Benchmarks finished Friday’s trading session slightly higher, following mixed economic numbers and speculation of weak sales from a major retail company. The S&P 500 maintained its winning streak for the seventh week in a row. Meanwhile, industrial production for January declined, dampening investor sentiment. Among the top ten S&P 500 industry groups, the Energy sector was the biggest loser and healthcare stocks were the major gainers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) increased 0.1% to close the day at 13,984.66. The S&P 500 increased 0.32 point to finish Friday’s trading session at 1,521.70. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.1% to end at 3,200.17. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) decreased 1.6% to settle at 12.46. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 6.7 billion shares, above the daily average of 6.45 billion shares in 2012. Declining stocks outnumbered the advancing stocks. For the 44% that advanced, 52% declined.

The blue-chip index and the Nasdaq ended slightly lower for the week but the S&P 500 eked out small gains. The S&P 500 finished in the green for the seventh week in a row. Last week’s trading session started on a positive note due to better-than-expected earnings and an improvement in international economic numbers. Tuesday’s trading session saw the Dow and the S&P 500 close at five-year highs in anticipation of optimism from President Barack Obama’s speech. However, the State of the Union speech did not have any major effect on Wednesday’s session. Investor sentiment was also dampened after the GDPs of the Euro zone and Japan contracted.

On the domestic front, according to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Industrial Production for the month of January decreased 0.1% versus an increase of 0.4% in December 2012. This was contrary to the consensus estimate of an increase 0.2%. In January, manufacturing output decreased 0.4%, production from mines was down 1.0%, while utilities output increased 3.5%.

Meanwhile, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the general business condition index increased to 10.04 for February versus the reading of -7.8 in January. Manufacturing activity in New York increased for the first time since 2012 summer. New orders increased to 13.3 while shipments increased to 13.1. The employment index increased for the third month in a row to 8.1. This was the first time since September 2012 that the employment index was positive.

Shares of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) decreased about 2.2% after Bloomberg said the company has began February sales on a poor note. The company is due to release its quarterly results this week. Shares of Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW) surged 4.7% after it declared quarterly results better than the Street’s expectations. The earnings of the company doubled for the reported quarter. The company also increased its dividend to 5 cents a share, up 25%.

The energy sector had a bad day and emerged as the biggest loser among the S&P 500 industry groups. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) lost 1.2%. Stocks such as Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO), Suncor Energy Inc. (NYSE:SU) and Hess Corp. (NYSE:HES) declined 0.2%, 0.7%, 1.5%, 1.8% and 1.4%, respectively.

The health care sector was the major gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups and the Health Care SPDR (XLV) gained 0.2%. Stocks such as Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), Endo Health Solutions Inc (NASDAQ:ENDP) and Mylan Inc. (NASDAQ:MYL) added 0.5%, 0.9%, 0.6%, 1.0% and 0.2%, respectively.

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