In its last trading day of the quarter, the market went out with a bang, as the S&P 500 finally broke its all-time high set in October 2007, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average pushed its record high even higher. Both indexes tallied 0.4% gains, as the S&P 500 topped its former closing high of 1565.15, finishing at 1569.19, and the Dow gained 52 points to close at 14,578.
Stocks opened the day flat, but investors seemed to respond positively to reports that Cypriots were patiently waiting to withdraw money after banks in the troubled island nation reopened for the first time in nearly two weeks. Investors will be keeping a close eye on developments in Cyprus over the coming days as the Eurozone finance ministers have said that the Cypriot bailout package could serve as a model for future rescues.
Elsewhere, economic reports were mostly negative, as new jobless claims rose to 357,000 last week, above 341,000 in the previous week, and ahead of economist expectations of 338,000. Still, the increase was not enough to convince observers that the employment recovery was losing steam. The Department of Commerce also released its final revision of fourth-quarter GDP, upping the figure to 0.4%, from 0.1% earlier, which was boosted by a 13.2% increase in business investment. The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index also came in below expectations, falling to 52.4, but still indicating expansion in manufacturing activity.
IBM topped the Dow leaderboard today, gaining 1.1% on a combination of news. Investors seemed to be cheered by rival Accenture posting better-than-expected earnings, and demand has also been surging for supercomputers, many of which use chips made by IBM. The tech giant also figures to benefit from a new cyber-espionage law, which helped push up several other tech stocks today, including Oracle.
Chevron , meanwhile, was down the same amount, falling 1.1% late in the day, as Utah Governor Gary Herbert said the energy company's third pipeline leak in as many years is unacceptable. The most recent spill came last week at Willard Bay State Park, causing oil to flow into marshes. He said that his state would fill the void left by an unresponsive federal agency, adding that he would hold Chevron more accountable now and in the future. The oil giant currently has more than 130 employees working at all hours to clean up the spill. CEO John Watson also had his pay package cut due to several recent accidents.
Outside the Dow, Blackberry shares were strong out of the gate after reporting earnings this morning, but finished down 0.8% in the end. The Smartphone maker was up as much as 7% early in the session after it said it sold 1 million of its Blackberry Z10 phones, ahead of the 915,000 that analysts expected, and earnings beat estimates, as well. However, the market seemed wary of overreacting to the results, as Blackberry's subscriber base continued to fall, and much will hinge on the coming U.S. debut of the new phone.
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