Stocks Closed Narrowly Mixed

SNew York, October 11th ( – Stocks closed narrowly mixed amid thin trading volume and after earlier gains in the better than expected weekly jobless claims report fizzled. The report showed initial claims for unemployment falling the most in four years, but the Wall Street Journal later reported that one state, likely California, failed to post their claims number as expected.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 18.58 points, or 0.14%. The S&P 500 index climbed less than 1 point, or 0.02%, while the NASDAQ fell 2.37 points, or 0.08%.


The market started with modest gains amid mixed overseas performance and as it attempted to bounce from the recent losing streak. Participants shrugged the latest S&P’s downgrade of Spain’s credit rating to a notch above junk status and focused on growth hopes following interest rate cuts in Brazil and South Korea. Adding to the initial momentum was better than expected weekly jobless claims data.


The early gains lost steam and the market traded into narrow range towards the end of the session, as participants lost excitement over a presumably distorted weekly jobless claims report. The S&P 500 was the only major benchmark index that was able to edged higher in the session, with consumer stocks and technology posting declines, while the other sectors ended in positive territory; energy, financials, and materials logged the best performances.


Financial companies were among the top performers in the Dow today. Bank of America  (NYSE: BAC) jumped 1.3%, posting the biggest gain in the blue chip index, ahead of rival JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) kicking off earnings season for the banking giants. JPMorgan climbed 0.8%. On average analysts expect a profit of $1.21 per share on revenue of $24.53 billion, while analysts expect on average for Wells Fargo to earn 0.87 per share on revenue of $21.47 billion.


In the technology space, telecommunication companies grabbed headlines and were among the most notable movers. Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) surged more than 14% after the company confirmed that it was in talks with Japan’s Softbank, which is looking to acquire a majority stake in the U.S. current third largest wireless carrier. According to the reports the deal could be worth about $12.8 billion. Rivals Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T) fell on the news and weighed on the Dow, falling 1.3% and 1.8%, respectively. Meanwhile, shares of Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR) soared 70% on the news. Sprint owns half of Clearwire, and investors clearly bet that any potential deal with Softbank will include a buyout of Clearwire.


Also in the tech sector, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) continued with its sharp correction, wit participants showing no love for the stock. Shares tumbled another 2%, continuing to open the gap between current price action and its 50day moving average, a level the stock broke late last week. Impacting the stock performance were news that a Federal Appeals Court reversed an injunction that barred rival Samsung from selling its Galaxy Nexus smarthphone. The ongoing chatter regarding iPhone 5 production issues at Foxconn continued to shackle the stock, impacting sentiment over potential upside in iPhone shipments in the third and fourth quarters.


Meanwhile, in the energy sector coal stocks had a strong showing, with Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) and CONSOL Energy (NYSE: CNX) logging the best performances. Peabody rallied nearly 9%, while CONSOL jumped 8%. Rival and producer of metallurgical coal, Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR) surged 16% on speculation over increasing Chinese demand. Also benefiting coal stocks has been the recent gains in natural gas and what appears a rebound for iron ore prices, signaling a potential uptick in demand.


Elsewhere, in the industrial space Fastenal (NASDAQ: FAST) and Iron Mountain (NYSE: IRM) were notable movers. Fastenal rallied more than 8% to the top of the sector after the company posted inline earnings on revenue that was above consensus. Fastenal also announced that it was boosting its quarterly cash dividend by 10.5%. Iron Mountain jumped 4.7% after it announced that its Board of Directors declared a special dividend to shareholders in connection to the previously announced plan to convert to a REIT. Iron Mountain will pay the special dividend of about $4.07 per share, on November 21st.

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