Dollar keeps stocks at bay

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit multiyear highs, but DuPont and IBM pull the Dow lower. Jobless claims decline. Ford will expand a Louisville, Ky., plant. Tenet Healthcare soars on a takeover bid.

By Charley Blaine Dec 9, 2010 2:58PM

Charley BlaineUpdated: 6:52 p.m. ET

It was another one of those split stock markets, but, thanks to a strong auction of Treasury bonds and a little good news on the jobs front, stocks were generally higher, despite a tiny decline in the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU).

The biggest head wind for the market appeared to be the dollar, which was sharply higher this morning but faded a bit as the day wore on.

At the same time, there was still unease about the prospects for the extensions of the Bush tax provisions. House Democrats, in a nonbinding vote, rejected the bill as written. But most Congress watchers expect the extensions to pass next week.

The Dow finished the day down just 2 points to 11,370. The blue chips had been off as many as 41 points around 11:45 a.m. ET. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) was up 5 points to 1,233, its best close since Sept. 19, 2008. The Nasdaq Composite Index (COMPX) was up 8 points to 2,617, its best close since Dec. 31, 2007.

Futures trading suggests stocks will see a flat open on Friday.

There may be some speculation in health care stocks. Shares of hospital operator Tenet Healthcare (THC) soared nearly 49% to $6.37 after hours after Community Health Systems (CYH) offered $6 a share for Tenet -- or more than $7.3 billion including debt. The bid includes $5 a share in cash and $1 a share in stock.

Tenet's after-hours price strongly suggests that investors believe the bid will be increased. Tenet had closed at $4.29, up 3 cents on the day.

Jobless claims fall

The good news on jobs came from a decline in the weekly initial jobless claim filings. The Labor Department said the claims rate dropped to a seasonally adjusted 421,000 from 438,000 a week ago. The rate has fallen 16.5% since peaking in August.

Another bit of good news: Ford Motor (F) said it will invest $600 million to upgrade its Louisville, Ky., plant to prepare for the next-generation Escape sport-utility vehicle. The work force will grow from 1,100 to 2,900, and the plant will be better able to adjust to changing market conditions.

Ford was up 0.4% to $16.76. Rival General Motors (GM) was off 2.1% to $33.74.

Costco Wholesale (COST) added 2.6% to $71.02 after reporting decent earnings on Wednesday. The stock is up 10.1% this quarter and 20% on the year.

While the dollar was higher, so was gold, which ended up $9.60 to $1,392.80 in New York. Crude oil settled up 9 cents to $88.37.

Interest rates were lower, after a robust auction of 30-year Treasury bonds. The bonds were sold with a yield of 4.41%, lower than what Bloomberg News said was an expected yield of 4.477%.

The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 3.223% from 3.236% on Wednesday.

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Banks lead the market again
Telecom and financial stocks were the market leaders, in part because of hopes that the economy will strengthen in 2011 with the tax-cut extensions. Plus, there's hope banks will reinstate or expand dividends next year.

Bank of America (BAC) was the top Dow stock (and seventh-best S&P 500 performer), up 5.4% to $12.65. The stock is up 13.3% so far this week. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) was up 1.4% to $40.81. Wells Fargo (WFC) added 2.4% to $30.07. 

The KBW Bank Index ($BKX) was up 2.2% to $50.32 and is up 12.4% this month.

American International Group (AIG) climbed 13.2% to $47.78.  The bailed-out insurer made a deal that provides for repayment of the Federal Reserve and sets the rules for its eventual exit from U.S. control.

DuPont (DD) and IBM (IBM) were the biggest weights on the Dow. While DuPont said its 2010 earnings would rise to as much as $3.60 a share from its forecast $3.10, patent expirations might hurt pharmaceutical income next year. 

DuPont fell 1.2% to $48.32; IBM was off 0.5% to $144.30. The two knocked nearly 14 points from the Dow by themselves.

Eighteen of the 30 Dow stocks were higher, along with 46 Nasdaq-100 ($NDX.X) stocks. The index was up 1 point to 2,202.

It wasn't a big day for big tech stocks. Apple (AAPL) was off 0.4% to $319.76 and subtracted nearly 2 points from the index. Microsoft (MSFT), (AMZN), Adobe Systems (ADBE) and Broadcom (BRCM) were lower. Google (GOOG) was up 0.2% to $591.50. (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.)

But Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) rallied 5.7% to $1.39. Talk-show host Howard Stern said on air that he will stay with the company for five more years.

Stocks making big moves
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX), up 1.9% to $110.66. The big copper producer declared a supplemental dividend of $1 a share. Plus, the board declared a two-for-one split of its common stock. It takes effect on Feb. 1, 2011. Freeport shares are up 38% this year.

Lululemon Athletica (LULU), up 14.1% to $63.56. The biggest Canadian athletic-wear retailer said fourth-quarter earnings will be at least 46 cents a share. Analysts have expected 41 cents. The stock is up more than 130% this year.

Smithfield Foods (SFD), up 11.3% to $19.70. The U.S. pork processor said fiscal-second-quarter earnings were 80 cents a share. The Street had been looking for 56 cents.

Stryker (SYK), up 1.8% to $53. The maker of artificial body parts and hospital equipment boosted its quarterly dividend by 20% to 18 cents a share and increased its stock buyback program by $500 million.

Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA),  up 6.8% to $52.63. The generic-drug maker said its oral laquinimod drug was successful in reducing relapse rates in multiple sclerosis patients in a late-stage test.

Compellent Technologies (CML), down 13.7% to $29.04. The storage area network producer is in exclusive talks to sell itself to Dell (DELL). The two are talking about Dell buying Compellent for $27.50 a share in cash. That's an 18% discount to the company’s closing price Wednesday.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT), up 10.2% to $11.55. The tiremaker was raised to a "buy" from "underperform" at Bank of America.

Short hits from the markets -- New York close


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Dec 9, 2010 4:45PM
So the party of inclusion and wealth redistribution says NO to the tax cut compromise.  What a bunch of junveniles.  That's OK the Republicans will do the RIGHT thing in Jan and the voters will get rid of the socialists in 2012.  Interestingly, of the top 25 millionaires in Congress, 14 are Democrats and hypocrits.  What's in the H2O in San Francisco that produces so many arrogrant idiots?  Maybe it's all that POT they're smoking?
Dec 10, 2010 10:50AM
Repukeblicans of No

"NO" BIG GOVERNMENT; 'NO' SOCIALISM; 'NO' COMMUNISM; 'NO' MARXISM; 'NO' ANTI-AMERICANS(cough pelosi cough, 'I' need a jumbo jet to fly me around as 'I' am the speaker of ill will towards my fellow citizens and berate them for standing up for their rights & against illegal aliens)

not understanding your thinking???


have a few of these and mellow out and enjoy your wealthMartini glassTongue outMartini glass

Dec 9, 2010 8:10PM



Well you have blown me away. Try a blunt and some Merlot? I had thought you were one of the more reasonable guys on this blog. Well I am a libertarian, and don't believe the government spending is going to help us.

Dec 9, 2010 6:25PM
Active IRA - LOL you could've stopped at the 1st paragraph PartyDevil
Dec 10, 2010 9:47AM
Dec 10, 2010 12:25AM

Glad im not you,

You probably are right, sad to say. The world will never be safe for democracy, because democracy requires people to be smart. Educated people see the possibilities of democracy. Educated people can make the choices to promote democracy. America has been duped, Education has been under attack for the last 40 years. Kids coming out of schools have very little work ethic and barely a 6th grade education compared to 40 years ago.  They are taught someone will provide for them so they don't need to do anything, as long as they feel good about themselves. So yes socialism is waiting in the wings for America to fall completely.

Dec 9, 2010 10:12PM
Amen Active  Thumbs up I too like a good glass of wine or Kentucky bourbon neat, on the rocks or with 7 Up.  Never had a hang over from a little pot.  Moderation, moderation, moderation is the key to good fun and health.
Dec 9, 2010 6:26PM

Good idea!


I kind of figured I was somewhat diversified.

Stupid me sold ARII last week before it took off.

I'm up 22% since June.

Cantiq, now that you have $6,940.97 invested in the market maybe it is time to do a little research and diversify.
Dec 9, 2010 5:51PM

That would be medicinal marijuana.


I beat the dow today! My stocks went up $.97.

Thats +.00014 % !!!



Dec 9, 2010 8:28PM
The Anarchy (Libertarian) Party doesn't believe anybody can help fix anything, nor, help anybody else ever. The pot heads think they know best at how to run a country. LMAO Their solution for everything is: "Every man for himself"! LMAO again.... These dope head clowns should be the main attraction at circuses from coast to coast! What freaks of nature! Sick
Dec 9, 2010 8:13PM
I don't invest in the market because there is no money to be made and it's risky business. I make billions with my prostitutes, drugs and arms dealings. I'm just a smart and successful businessman making an honest living. Hot You are all invited to my church this Sunday! Angel
Dec 10, 2010 12:43AM

This is what you get when you keep voting for the Repukeblicans of No, the Neo-Tards of War, the pot head Anarchtarians and the False Christians of the Piss Tea Party. These are the greedy and corrupt imbeciles destroying this nation. Everything they do is wrong and backwards of how it should be done.


Tax cuts and welfare for the rich. Sick It's been going on for how long? Well where's the jobs then?


Job outsourcing. Sick That's one sure way of eliminating American jobs and destroying a nation financially.


Trickle-down economics. Sick Again, for how long has this failed system been around? Where's the money then? 2010 set a new record for wealth disparity between the rich and poor. You fertilize a plant from it's roots and watch it grow. You can't start from the top. Trickle-up economics is the only sane, logical and common sense solution.


Wall (Fraud) Street and the elite mobsters running their crooked Ponzi Market Casino. Sick Shut them down, demolish Main Street and ban all Stock Markets from ever stealing money again.


Deregulation. Sick Works for all the crooks but not for all the honest hard working people. Mass Regulation and Price Control is the only answer and the only way to run a prosperous country.


Free Trade. Sick More like one-sided trade favoring China. Trade deficits will bankrupt and destroy a nation in no time. Who's the idiot who said deficits don't matter? Oh yeah, that Repukeblican Neo-Tard Cheney. Fair trade is the only obvious answer. It's not rocket science idiots!


Reduced wages, unemployment and no health or dental benefits for the working class. Sick While the corrupt CEO's rake in millions in salary and bonuses. Reward the lazy thieves and punish the honest hard workers. Stupidity at it's best!


The poor and what's left of the middle class must unite, revolt and take this nation back. Hang all the greedy and corrupt bankers, lawyers and politicians that have caused this mess. Class Warfare is the best and fastest way to solve the ills of this nation. Capitalism must die! Socialism must live!

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  • Dec gold chopped around near the unchanged level for most of today's pit trade as investors awaited the FOMC policy statement released at 14:00 ET. The yellow metal touched a session high of $1240.10 per ounce in early morning action but later dipped to a session low of $1234.50 per ounce and settled 60 cents below the break-even line at $1235.60 per ounce.
  • Dec silver erased slight early morning losses as it lifted from its session low of $18.64 per ounce. It ... More


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