Another Record Close for S&P 500 as Wall Street Gains on Positive Economic News

Michael Teague  |

The Cypriot banking crisis inched its way closer to an official conclusion as that country’s parliament voted 29-27 in favor of approving the European Union bailout plan geared towards solving the banking crisis that has been one of the most serious of the recent upheavals to emerge from the continent’s troubled economies.

Meanwhile, an April CNBC Fed survey showed that a vast majority of participants, among them economists and fund managers, believe that the Federal Reserve will continue its asset purchasing program well in to 2014. Originally, the Fed was believed to be planning a gradual draw-down of its quantitative easing program by the end of 2013.

The news comes as the Treasury announced that it expects to pay down the budget deficit in the second quarter of 2013 to the tune of $35 billion, against a February estimate in which it said it had said it expected to borrow $103 billion.

While tax season typically makes the second quarter of any year a good one for debt repayment for the Treasury, the announced payment marks the first since 2007, just before the economic crisis threw the nation into turmoil.

The S&P 500 was up 0.25 percent to 1,597.33, on the strength of Apple’s (AAPL) 2.95 percent gain that saw shares at $442.80 by closing. Shares were up as a result of the company’s announcement that it would be offering $17 billion in bonds for sale, the largest non-bank bond offering in U.S. history. The move was widely interpreted as the company’s attempt to satisfy increasingly uneasy investors after a somewhat disappointing earnings report last week seemed to indicate that the once dominant Apple is gradually losing its grip on the mobile market.

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Shares for Best Buy (BBY) were up over 7 percent to $26 after the company announced that it was selling half of its stake in Best Buy Europe to its partner in the venture, Carphone Warehouse. The winery and distillery operator Constellation Brands (STZ) was up 3.36 percent to $49.35 as the company said it intends to sell $1.55 billion of debt to finance its effort to become the nation’s only importer of the popular Corona beer brand.

Embattled department store operator JCPenney (JCP) dropped 4.45 percent to $16.43 after excitement from last week’s news that billionaire investor George Soros’s hedge fund revealing a large stake in the company. Moody’s on Tuesday cut the company’s corporate family rating from “B3” to “Caa1”, saying that the loan JCPenney has recently been seeking would not be a fix-all to its problems in the short and near-terms.

The Dow was up a modest 0.14 percent to 14,839.80 with International Business Machines (IBM) leading the way on an advance of 1.64 percent to $202.50 per share after the company announced increases in both its dividend payout as well as its share buyback program.

Tech stocks were among the Dow’s top gainers on the day, with Verizon Communications (VZ) up 1.10 percent to $54.05 and Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) up 0.87 percent to $32.90, followed by Intel (INTC) and AT&T (T).

Pfizer (PFE) held the Dow back, however, with a drop of 4.3 percent to $29.12 after the company released earnings earlier in the day indicated that its sales continue to be greatly affected by expired patenting rights for some of its most popular drugs.

The Nasdaq gained 0.66 percent to 3,328.79 as SIRIUS XM Radio Inc. (SIRI) was up 5.7 percent to $3.25 on high volume as the company reported earnings for the first quarter indicating higher net income resulting from a larger subscriber base.

Blackberry (BBRY) continued its recent string of gains closing on a gain of almost 4 percent to $16.23 as the company’s release of its new Q10 keyboard model phone draws nearer in the United States. Facebook was up 2.9 percent to $27.77.

Software company Nuance Communications (NUAN) dragged the index downward, dropping 18.28 percent to close at $19.04 after its Q1 earnings guidance for the rest of 2013 came in short of expectations.

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