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Stock Market News for March 15, 2013

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Benchmarks added on gains yesterday riding on upbeat investor sentiment following a bunch of encouraging economic numbers. The Dow Jones closed at another record high while the S&P 500 is whiskers away from its all-time high. Meanwhile, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) declined to the lowest level in more than six years. All top ten S&P 500 industry groups ended in the green among which energy stocks were the biggest gainers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.6% to close the day at 14,539.14. The S&P 500 rose 0.6% to finish yesterday’s trading session at 1,563.23. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.4% to end at 3,258.93. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) lost 4.5% to settle at 11.30. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 6 billion shares, below the daily average of 6.48 billion shares. Advancing stocks outnumbered the decliners. For the 66% that advanced, 31% declined.

The Dow continued its rally for the 10th day in a row while the S&P 500 closed just below its all-time high. The Dow and the S&P 500 have gained 11% and 9.6% respectively. The S&P 500 closed just two points shy of its all-time high. Meanwhile, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index grew to -31.6, narrower than -32.4 in the previous week. This data came on the heels of positive investor sentiment. Improving job scenario, high consumer spending, gains in housing market and the Fed’s stimulus policies boosted investor sentiment.

The major indices advanced following strong initial claims data. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of American citizens filing for unemployment claims decreased by 10,000 to 332,000. This data is well below the consensus estimate of 350,000. For the third week in a row the initial claims data decreased indicating an improving job market scenario. The four-week average also decreased to its lowest level in almost five years. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Producer Price Index (PPI), for finished goods, was 0.7% in February, up from 0.2% in January. The PPI index was in line with the consensus estimate

According to the data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the preliminary estimate of the U.S. current account deficit in the fourth quarter, which includes a combined balance of trade in goods and services, income and net unilateral transfers came down to $110.4 billion from the previous month’s revised figure of $112.4 billion. The deficit on goods decreased to $180.6 billion while the surplus on services and income increased to $52.2 billion and $52.4 billion, respectively.

On the earnings front, shares of The Men's Wearhouse, Inc. (NYSE:MW) jumped almost 19% after it registered low quarterly loss. Rise in sales offset the company’s quarterly loss. Total sales increased 8.2% in the fourth quarter and 4.4% in the fiscal year.

Energy stocks were the biggest gainers among the top ten S&P 500 industry groups. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (ETF) (XLE) increased 1.3%. Stocks such as Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Hess Corp. (NYSE:HES), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY) and Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO) gained 0.6%, 1.4%, 0.4%, 1.3% and 1.1%, respectively.

Technology stocks also had a good run in yesterday’s trading session. The Technology SPDR (ETF) (XLK) gained 0.7%. Stocks such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) rose 1.0%, 1.8%, 0.8%, 0.7% and 1.1%, respectively.

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