After the Close - Stocks rallied today on largely upbeat news on the economy and earnings, regaining a sizable chunk of the ground lost in yesterday’s big selloff. Closing with a flourish, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tacked on 158 points and the NASDAQ was 48 points to the good. Winners outpaced losers by a wide margin on both the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ.

Although the market didn’t recover all of Monday’s heavy losses, today’s trading indicated that at least a portion of the prior session’s downturn was due to factors outside the normal course of business. Specifically, the terrible events at the Boston Marathon temporarily dampened investor psychology.  

Not all of the news was positive, however, since the International Monetary Fund lowered its forecast for global growth. The IMF now projects the global economy will grow at a 3.3% rate in 2013 and 4.0% in 2014. Those figures are down from January’s call for 3.5% growth this year and 4.1% next year. The organization also urged policymakers not to let down their guard, given risks to the recovery. 

But, overall, the upbeat tone of trading stood in stark contrast to yesterday’s dour backdrop. Investors who felt they had missed out on the market’s rally this year had a chance to get in at lower levels.

In terms of sectors, basic materials stocks performed better than most. Shares of Newmont Mining (NEM), for one, bounced back a bit from the bearishness that has developed in the gold market.

There was also good relative strength in consumer cyclical names, although it should be noted that all of the stock market sectors did well today. Among consumer stocks, Wolverine World Wide (WWW) stood out after the footwear maker’s profit forecast roared past analysts’ estimates.

As for individual issues, Rite Aid (RAD) was the most actively traded stock on the Big Board. Interest in its shares has perked up after the drug store chain reported a bottom-line turnaround last week. Shares of Citigroup (C) were also higher in heavy volume after a good profit report on Monday.

Tomorrow brings another round of earnings reports, including disclosures from Dow-30 components Bank of America (BAC Free BofA Stock Report) and American Express (AXP Free AmEx Stock Report). In terms of the economy, the release of the Federal Reserve Beige Book, which contains commentary on current conditions in each of the Fed’s 12 districts, and is closely watched by Wall Street, is due out at 2:00 p.m. EDT.  - Robert Mitkowski

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


12:20 PM EDT - The stock market opened nicely higher this morning, after yesterday’s selloff. The market’s gains have been able to hold, so far, and even intensify. Traders will have to show follow through in the afternoon to meaningfully reverse yesterday’s poor showing. At just past noon in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is higher by 130 points (0.9%); the S&P 500 Index is adding on 17 points (1.1%); and the tech-laden NASDAQ is ahead 39 points (1.2%). Market breadth shows some underlying strength to the session, as advancing stocks are ahead of decliners by better than 3 to 1 on the NYSE.

All of the market sectors are participating in today’s up move. The basic materials issues, which were weak yesterday, are leading the market recovery today. Some of the metals issues are doing better. Notably, gold, which had suffered a sharp pullback, is firming up. The transportation issues are also doing well. Although modestly higher, there is some relative underperformance in the healthcare and energy sectors.

Technically, the market displayed considerable weakness yesterday. Furthermore, that move came on some of the heaviest trading volume that we have seen this year. Also, the VIX was up about 40%, suggesting that traders were becoming apprehensive. It is likely too early to tell if today’s recovery attempt can successfully keep the market from correcting more meaningfully over the next few weeks. While the saying “sell in May and go away” may be just a rhyme, this advice certainly has held true for the past couple of years, and some traders could be wondering if they shouldn’t take heed again.

The economic news released this morning was encouraging, and likely helped the bullish cause. Specifically, housing starts for the month of March came in at 1,036,000 up from 968,000 in February. This showing was also better than analysts had expected. In contrast, building permits for March were softer than anticipated. The Home Builders Trust (XHB) is advancing today, but is off its highs. Elsewhere, the CPI for March was released, and there is little to worry about on the inflation front. We also got a look at industrial production. This key measure improved 0.4%, in March, which was a bit better than anticipated, but slumped in the manufacturing area. Tomorrow, there are only a few reports coming out. However, one of these will be the Fed’s Beige Book summation for April, and that will likely get some attention.

In corporate news, a few large companies reported results today. Shares of Dow-component Coca-Cola (KO - Free Coca-Cola Stock Report) are higher, after the soda giant put out a decent release. In finance, Goldman Sachs (GS) also put out a solid earnings report, but that issue is off a bit, nonetheless. -Adam Rosner

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 Earnings season is beginning to heat up, as a number of notable companies reported results today, including healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJFree Johnson & Johnson Stock Report) and beverage behemoth Coca-Cola (KOFree Coca-Cola Stock Report). The two Dow-30 components appeared to please investors, and both stocks are trading moderately higher in the premarket, which is showing broad indicated strength after yesterday’s selloff. Banks and other financial companies are also in the spotlight, as investors are digesting quarterly reports from Goldman Sachs (GS), BlackRock (BLK), Northern Trust (NTRS), and U.S. Bancorp (USB). Goldman and BlackRock delivered solid results, sending their stocks higher in pre-market trading, but shares of NTRS and USB are down ahead of the bell.

In other earnings-related news, shares of general merchandise retailer Target (TGT) and hospital operator HCA Holdings (HCA) are indicating lower openings this morning, after each company issued disappointing guidance. Finally, the stock of Mack-Cali (CLI) is down sharply ahead of the bell, after the real estate investment trust slashed its quarterly cash dividend by 33% in an effort to save cash. – 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 - The bear is back--at least for one day--as equities suffered their worst loss in some five months yesterday, with all of the leading averages and individual groups plunging across the board in a selling frenzy, which began at the outset of the trading day and did not let up at all.

By the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had plummeted by 266 points; the Standard and Poor's 500 Index had dropped 36 points; and the NASDAQ had plunged by 78 points. The small- and mid-cap indexes did even worse, suggesting that investors were shunning any sort of risk in the latest session. Losing issues swamped winning stocks by more than seven to one on both the Big Board and the NASDAQ. There was clearly no place to hide.

Behind this selling frenzy was a dour economic report coming out of China, the world's second largest economy, in which its business expansion ebbed somewhat in the first quarter. In all, that nation's gross domestic product increased 7.7% in the period, a strong performance, to be sure, but less than the prior quarter's 7.9% growth rate and expectations of an 8.0% gain in GDP. Adding to that concern was a disappointing manufacturing survey coming out of New York State. Finally, late in the day, came the tragic news out of Boston that an explosion at the Boston Marathon had killed several and wounded more than 100.

Meanwhile, the sharp drop in stocks yesterday also unleashed a torrent of selling in the commodities, with gold, silver, and oil all dropping sharply in price, with the yellow metal falling by more than $100 an ounce to below $1,400 an ounce. Just months before, gold had been closing in on $2,000 an ounce. Fears about a global economic slowdown appeared to be behind the latest selloff in the metals and oil. Shares of some of the leading basic materials stocks and the major mining issues were especially hard hit.

All of this came on an otherwise light news day for both the economy on these shores and for earnings. That is all changing now, as several giant corporations have already reported their earnings figures and a pair of key economic reports have been issued. To wit, we have seen favorable earnings released from two members of the Dow-30, Coca-Cola (KOFree Coca-Cola Stock Report) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJFree J&J Stock Report). Both of those companies have exceeded expectations, and their shares are indicating higher openings when the market commences the trading day in less than an hour from now. Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs (GS) also has issued its results, likewise beating consensus, and that stock, after some initial hesitancy, is also noting a likely higher opening, albeit nominally so.

On the economic front, the Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index had eased by 0.2% in March; expectations had been for an unchanged reading, while the core rate of the CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose just 0.1%, which was half the forecast increase of 0.2%. At the same time, it was reported that housing starts surged in March, thereby reaffirming the bullish case for the U.S. economy. The strong housing data and benign CPI result have enabled the equity futures to sustain the vigorous gains inked before those releases had come out.

Finally, we express our fervent hopes for a speedy and full recovery to those innocent victims of this horrific attack on our nation yesterday, and we express our most sincere sympathy to those who have sustained terrible losses in that awful attack on our shores. – Harvey S. Katz

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