Market Wrap: Dow, S&P Finish at Records on Yellen Comments

Stocks Close At Record High On News Of EU Greece Bailout Extension
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks closed higher Tuesday, with the Dow and SP 500 hitting records, as investors attempted to interpret a subtle change in emphasis in testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.

Yellen told a congressional committee that the Fed is preparing to consider increases “on a meeting-by-meeting basis.” While economists have been expecting a hike as soon as June, some investors saw Yellen’s comments as an indicator of a later liftoff for the Fed’s first rate hike since 2006.

All the news at this point is incrementally good. [But] it’s not enough to cause a significant rise at this point.

“All the news at this point is incrementally good,” said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey. “It’s not enough to cause a significant rise at this point. The only thing that would give us a rise now would be earnings growth. In most industries, we’re not really seeing strong top-line growth.”

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 92.35 points, or 0.51 percent, to 18,209.19, the Standard Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) gained 5.82 points, or 0.28 percent, to 2,115.48 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 7.15 points, or 0.14 percent, to 4,968.12.

The Nasdaq rose for the 10th straight session, its longest streak since July 2009.

Equity investors didn’t react dramatically as they are likely more focused on economic indicators such as jobs data due out in a week, said Jim Paulsen, chief investment officer at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis.

“There just doesn’t seem to be big reaction by the U.S. stock market,” said Paulsen. “The market may be more focused on the Fed’s boss — the economy — than on the Fed itself.”

Rising Home Prices

The SP/Case Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas gained 4.5 percent in December above the 4.3 percent forecast and 4.3 percent in November.

Other data showed the U.S. services sector expanded in February at its fastest pace since October, according to a preliminary reading from financial-data company Markit (MRKT). But U.S. consumer confidence fell more than expected in February, according to the Conference Board.

Home Depot (HD) shares gained 3.98 percent, boosting the SP 500 and the Dow. The home improvement retailer reported a better-than-expected quarterly same-store sales and announced an $18 billion share buyback program.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) climbed 2.5 percent. The bank told investors it aims to save about $1.4 billion in annual expenses. It also forecast about 10 percent core loan growth in 2015.

Toll Brothers (TOL) rose 3.9 percent, helping to lift the PHLX housing index. The largest U.S. luxury homebuilder reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and raised the low end of its full-year home delivery forecast.

About 5.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.9 billion month-to-date average, according to BATS Global Markets.

Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,897 to 1,176, for a 1.61-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,576 issues rose and 1,147 fell, a 1.37-to-1 ratio.

The SP 500 posted 73 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 132 new highs and 26 new lows.

What to watch Wednesday:

  • The Commerce Department releases new home sales for January at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

Earnings Season
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:

  • Cablevision Systems (CVC)
  • Campbell Soup (CPB)
  • Chesapeake Energy (CHK)
  • Dollar Tree (DLTR)
  • Integrys Energy Group (TEG)
  • L Brands (LB)
  • Liberty Interactive (QVCA) (LVNTA)
  • Liberty Media (LMCK) (LMCA)
  • Lowe’s (LOW)
  • Royal Bank of Canada (RY)
  • (CRM)
  • Sprouts Farmers Market (SFM)
  • Target (TGT)
  • TJX Cos. (TJX)
  • Transocean (RIG)
  • Whiting Petroleum (WLL)
  • I understand that you don’t want to contribute to landfills. But here’s an example where spending more money, rather than less, is a good idea.

    Instead of washing and re-using plastic baggies, a more reasonable idea is to spend a little extra money to purchase reusable containers to store your snacks and leftovers.

    Plastic baggies are worth just a few cents apiece. The time and water you waste washing and drying them makes the “return on investment” negative.

    1. You rewash your plastic bags

  • Do you hoard tiny ketchup packets to bring home and squeeze into your bigger ketchup bottle? If so, you get points for creativity, but not many for frugality.

    You’re not only wasting time and effort, you’re also (arguably) stealing from the restaurant owner. Bite the bullet and just buy a new bottle of ketchup.

    2. You steal restaurant condiment packets

  • ​3. You separate two-ply toilet paper to get twice the use out of it

  • 4. You reuse coffee grounds

  • 5. You save leftover soap scraps to create a conglomerate soap ball

  • ​6. You buy anniversary gifts at the thrift store

  • 7. You dumpster dive

  • Unless your dishwasher, washing machine and kitchen sink are simultaneously broken, there’s no reason to be washing anything in the shower other than your actual self.

    You may think you’re saving money by washing your clothes in the shower, but in reality, you’re actually just running the water twice as long (and repeating this for each outfit you wash). It may be more cost-effective –- and it’s certainly more time-effective –- to clean an entire week’s worth of clothes in one run through the washing machine.

    8. You wash your clothes while you shower

  • We’re not talking about stealing a bite from your spouse’s entrée; we’re talking about walking over to recently abandoned tables in restaurants and finishing the plates of total strangers. (This one is another gem from “Extreme Cheapskates.”)

    This behavior could potentially get you kicked out of a restaurant, which would humiliate your friends and family (and potentially embarrass you). Here’s a tip: If money is so tight that you need to swipe food from other people’s plates, avoid restaurants and cook at home, instead.

    ​9. You eat food off other people’s plates

  • This item on this list might have the greatest chance of feeling familiar.

    Hitting up a couple stores to snag sale is fine. But if you’re wasting a tank of gas and the better part of an afternoon driving all around town for one item here, one item there, you’re wasting both fuel and time that could be spent on more profitable endeavors.

    Rather than buying bananas at one store, milk at another and cereal at a third store –- and then repeating this cycle with socks, makeup, cat food, cotton balls and everything else –- buy everything from one or two stores, and use the spare time to work extra hours, start a side business, organize your files, or otherwise achieve something that’s a bit more productive.

    ​10. You spend hours driving around for the best deals

  • More from Paula Pant

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