Stocks shuffled higher today following seven straight weeks of gains, much to the chagrin of the bears who have been vocally calling for a pullback.
The recent rally could best be described as a slow grind up the wall of worry, and today's action seemed to be an extension of that. A popular trade as of late has been to purchase supposedly "cheap" put options on indices like the Russell 2000
(INDEXRUSSELL:RUT). Perhaps the demand for insurance reflects sentiment that is far more negative than headline indicators would indicate.
In stock news, the Wall Street Journal
reported that office supply stores Office Depot
(NYSE:ODP) and OfficeMax
(NYSE:OMX) are in merger discussions, sending both those stocks, as well as competitor Staples
(NASDAQ:SPLS), sharply higher for the day.
On the economic front, the February NAHB housing market index came in at 46, missing the consensus forecast of 48, and driving weakness in homebuilding stocks. In spite of this disappointment, financials rallied, and in fact significantly outperformed the S&P 500
In earnings, before the open, Medtronic
(NYSE:MDT), Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
(NASDAQ:RRGB), and Genuine Parts Company
(NYSE:GPC) beat Wall Street's expectations, while Group 1 Automotive
(NYSE:WIN), and Yandex
(NASDAQ:YNDX). After the close, Dell
(NASDAQ:DELL) and Herbalife
(NYSE:HLF) both delivered better-than-expected results.
Tomorrow's Financial Outlook
Tomorrow, we will see a host of important economic data points, particularly for housing. At 7:00 a.m. ET, we'll see the MBA Mortgage Index numbers, with housing starts, building permits, and PPI coming at 8:30 a.m.
At 2:00 p.m. ET, the FOMC will release its meeting minutes, which could very well drive volatility should the Fed deliver any surprise revelations regarding the economic outlook or inflation expectations.
We'll also plenty of earnings reports. Major names include Devon Energy
(NASDAQ:GRMN), MGM Resorts
(NYSE:MGM), Toll Brothers
(NYSE:TOL) before the open, and Cheesecake Factory
(NYSE:FLR), and KBR
(NYSE:KBR) after the close.
And finally, traders seeking entertainment should consider checking out Herbalife's 11:00 a.m. ET earnings call as its fourth-quarter numbers will drive the next chapter in the Ackman vs. Icahn drama.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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