December 21, 2010, MarketWatch
U.S. stocks mostly rose on Monday, extending gains into a fourth week, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell after concerns over proposed debit-card rules hit component American Express Co.
Solid fourth-quarter financial results should propel equities higher despite their short-term overbought condition, projected one analyst, who said he believes the bull market is likely to continue its run through January.
“We are overbought, no question. But it is earnings that move markets, and to that end, we have more fuel for Santa’s sleigh,” wrote Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald.
The S&P 500 Index closed up 3.17 points, or 0.3%, to 1,247.08, led by gains in the energy and consumer-discretionary sectors.
Shares of home builders Lennar Corp.and D. R. Horton Inc. advanced more than 3%, supporting the consumer sector. Energy stocks were lifted by an 8.8% gain in Chesapeake Energy Corp. after investor Carl Icahn revealed an increased stake in the natural-gas wwwucer. Read more on Icahn, Chesapeake.
The Nasdaq Composite added 6.59 points, or 0.3%, to 2,649.56.
Drifting between gains and losses for much of the session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 13.78 points, or 0.1%, at 11,478.13. Of the index’s 30 components, 12 ended lower.
American Express led Dow decliners with a 3.4% drop. Stifel Nicolaus & Co. downgraded the charge-card issuer to hold from buy, citing a drag from the Federal Reserve’s plans to force reduction in debit-card interchange fees. Read more in Financial Stocks.
Boeing Co. was the second hardest hit among the blue chips, with shares falling 2.7%, on concern the aerospace manufacturer might again delay its 787 Dreamliner.
And Intel Corp. slid 1.1% after The Wall Street Journal reported that European regulators were reviewing the chip maker’s proposed acquisition of McAfee Inc.
Decliners edged past advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume topped 829 million shares.
Undercutting the major indexes earlier in the session, the greenback gained against other major currencies, with the dollar index at 80.595. See more on the dollar reaching a two-week high.
The dollar’s rise to a two-week high against the euro came after the European Central Bank said its purchases of government debt fell steeply last week.
Wall Street had opened modestly higher, as investors set aside tensions that had risen after South Korea staged military drills from an island not far from North Korea’s shores, and took hopes from a slate of merger activity.