Market Wrap for Wednesday, March 27: Stocks Close Mixed as Nasdaq Turns Positive
The euro hit a 6-month low on Wednesday versus the greenback, with the EUR/USD falling around 0.65 percent to $1.2775.
The falling euro signals that investors are becoming more and more concerned about a potential re-flaring of the European sovereign debt crisis in the wake of a bailout for Cyprus.
Nevertheless, investors still appear content to ride a hot market as stocks climbed throughout the session after gapping lower at the open. At the end of the day, the Nasdaq had regained positive territory while the Dow and S&P recorded minor losses.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 33 points, or 0.23 percent, to 14,526.
The S&P 500 lost around 1 point, or 0.06 percent, to 1,563.
The Nasdaq added around 4 points, or 0.12 percent, to 3,257.
Pending Home Sales
Pending home sales data released on Wednesday morning showed that sales fell 0.4 percent in February compared to a 4.5 percent rise in January. This was well below economists consensus expectations which called for a 2.0 percent increase in pending home sales.
Crude oil rose moderately on Wednesday. In late afternoon trading, NYMEX crude futures had added 0.22 percent to $96.44 while Brent contracts were trading up 0.37 percent. Natural gas also rose better than 2 percent on the session to above $4, at $4.07.
Precious metals also recorded gains on the session with gold outperforming silver. Near the close of equities, gold futures were up 0.65 percent to $1,607.10 while silver had added 0.16 percent to $28.71. Copper futures were last up 0.38 percent.
In the grains complex, corn and wheat were both higher on the day with corn futures last trading up 0.38 percent and wheat climbing 0.72 percent. Movers in soft commodities included coffee, which fell 0.73 percent, and orange juice which was down 1.40 percent.
Heading into the closing bell, bond prices had moved sharply higher. At last check, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE: TLT) was up 0.77 percent to $118.25. With the exception of the 2-Year Note yield, which was unchanged at 0.25 percent, yields fell significantly.
The yield on the 5-Year Note lost four basis points to 0.73 percent. The 10-Year Note yield fell six basis points to 1.85 percent and the 30-Year Bond yield lost five basis points to 3.09 percent.
The U.S. dollar was higher on the session. Heading into the close, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE: UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, was up 0.47 percent to $22.67.
The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last down 0.65 percent. The only other significant mover on the day was the AUD/USD which lost 0.33 percent.
Volatility and Volume
The VIX climbed on Wednesday's as stocks closed mixed. The widely watched fear barometer traded in a range between 12.97 and 13.97, closing with a 3 percent gain at 13.14.
Volume was light once again during the holiday-shortened week, with only around 88 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY) shares trading hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 129 million.
Shares of Diana Shipping (NYSE: DSX) were up around 13 percent near the close after the stock was featured on Mad Money with Jim Cramer.
Metabolix (NASDAQ: MBLX) lost around 10 percent on Wednesday after the company released its fiscal Q4 earnings results after the closing bell on Tuesday.
Mattress Firm (NASDAQ: MFRM) jumped 12 percent during the session after the company released bullish Q4 results.
Select Comfort (NASDAQ: SCSS) surged throughout the day, finishing up more than 7 percent in sympathy with Mattress Firm.
Shares of UTStarcom Holdings (NASDAQ: UTSI) jumped almost 17 percent after Shah Capital approached the company with a buyout offer.
Biotech firm Tesaro (NYSE: TSRO) climbed around 6 percent on the session. The reason for the activity in the name was not readily apparent.
Mellanox Technologies (NASDAQ: MLNX) added around 7 percent on Wednesday on no news.
LogMeIn (NASDAQ: LOGM) fell more than 10 percent after climbing as much as 22 percent on Tuesday in the wake of a favorable court ruling in a patent infringement case.
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