Another run at 13K falls short for Dow

Profit-taking pulls the market back from 4-year highs. But the Dow and S&P 500 are headed toward their best February since 1998. JPMorgan Chase rises after Buffett says he owns a small stake in the bank. Apple hits a new high. Crude oil slips.

By Charley Blaine Feb 27, 2012 2:09PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 10 p.m. ET

For the sixth time in as many sessions, the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) gave every indication that it would close above 13,000 for the first time since the spring of 2008. For the sixth time in a row, however, it didn't happen.

The blue chips actually fell on the day. They had opened down as many as 100 points, then rebounded quickly. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) briefly moved through a key technical level. The major averages are headed to a solid February finish and their best annual starts in at least a dozen years.

The market was helped by a decline in the price of crude oil (-CL) and a lack of bad news about Iran. Germany's Parliament agreed to its share of a rescue package for Greece.

At the same time, a report showed pending home sales, where contracts have been signed but transactions not settled, were up 2% in January from December. Homebuilding stocks were higher, and home-improvement company Lowe's (LOW) saw shares rise after earnings beat Street estimates.

The Dow closed down 1 point to 12,982. The S&P 500 rose 2 points to 1,368, and the Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) added 2 points to 2,966.

Article continues below.
The S&P 500, which closed at a four-year high on Friday, actually reached 1,370.94, its highest intraday level since June 2008, before falling back. What's not clear is if the failure to finish at or above its high on the day is a signal stocks have peaked. A close above 1,370 would have been the S&P 500's best close since June 5, 2008, when the index closed at 1,404.

The Dow is up 6.3% this year, its best start since 1998. The S&P 500's 8.8% gain is its best since 1991. The Nasdaq, up 13.9%, is sporting its best annual start since 2000.

The Dow and the S&P 500 are also looking at their best Februarys since 1998; the Nasdaq may see its best February gain since 2000.

It is precisely because of those gains since October that many analysts are worried. From an intraday low on Oct. 3, the Dow is up nearly 25%, with the S&P 500 up 27% and the Nasdaq up 29%.

Gains achieved that quickly often blow up.

It's possible the Dow will and S&P 500 will make runs at 13,000 and 1,370, respectively on Thursday. Futures trading suggests stocks will open modestly higher.

The day includes earnings from Domino's Pizza (DPZ), Transocean (RIG), Office Depot (ODP) and Dreamworks Animation (DMA).

Economic reports include the January report on durable goods orders from the Commerce Department, the Conference Board's February report on consumer confidence and the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index from December.

Priceline shares jump on strong earnings
Shares of (PCLN) were up $36.73 to $628.27 after hours as the online travel booking company reported fiscal-fourth-quarter revenue and profit well ahead of expectations, and forecast this quarter’s profit per share higher as well.

Revenue in the three months ended in December rose 35.5% from a year ago, to $991 million. The company earned $5.37 per share.

Analysts had expected $968 million in revenue and $5.05 per share.

The total dollar value of travel booked rose 52% from a year ago to $4.96 billion, Priceline said.

Financials lead the market; is Buffett the cause?
Financial stocks were the market leaders today, perhaps in part because of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) CEO Warren Buffett.

The famed investor told CNBC he personally had a small stake in JPMorgan Chase (JPM), whose shares were up 78 cents to $39.06. The shares are up 17% this year and up 4.4% in February.

But Buffett's heart is still with Wells Fargo (WFC). If he had to own one bank stock, he said, Wells Fargo would be his choice. Wells Fargo was up 85 cents to $31.03. The stock is up 9.2% this year.

JPMorgan Chase shares were helped by research notes that the company might be worth more if it was broken up.

Consumer discretionary stocks and tech stocks also were higher. One reason: Apple (AAPL) was trading at $526.70, a new all-time high. It closed at $525.76, up $3.35.

The laggards today were energy stocks, but the declines were small. While Exxon Mobil (XOM) finished up 11 cents to $87.23, Halliburton (HAL) dropped 76 cents to $37.75. Baker Hughes International (BHI) was off $1.39 to $50.57.

Energy prices -- New York close



Month chg.

YTD chg.
Crude oil (-CL)




(per barrel)

Heating oil (-HO)




(per gallon)

Natural gas (-NG)




(per mil. BTU)

Unleaded gasoline (-RB)




(per gallon)

Brent crude 




(per barrel)

Retail gasoline




(per gallon; AAA)

Pending home sales show a gain
Investors were cheered when the National Association of Realtors said its index of pending home sales neared a two-year high in January, gaining 2% last month. Sales were expected to have risen 1% in January, according to Thomson Reuters, following a 3.5% drop in December. The report said the group is expecting price stabilization and possible price growth this year.

Adding to the cheer was Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett's comment today that he'd love to buy single-family homes, if he could find someone to manage the assets.

Interest rates are near record lows, and a stabilizing jobs picture is apparently whetting buyer interest.

New- and existing-home sales have shown some gains in recent months, although both remain far below levels reached in 2005 and 2006. That may be a bless, however.

Homebuilding shares were higher, with the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index ($HGX) up 1.42 points to 120.72. The index is up 17.3% this year.

Warm weather and more confidence boost Lowe's
Lowe’s shares closed up 18 cents to $27.34. The shares are up 7.7% for the year.

Sales at stores open at least a year advanced 3.4%, helped by the fourth-warmest January on record. Unemployment sank to a three-year low last month and builders began work on more houses. Analysts had expected same-store sales to increase 1.1%.

Same-store sales at rival Home Depot (HD) reported last week its same-store sales rose 5.7% in the fourth quarter.

Lowe’s said profit per share in the fiscal year ending Feb. 1, 2013, may be $1.75 to $1.85. Analysts estimated $1.80. The retailer said comparable-store sales may rise 1% to 3% after they were essentially unchanged in 2012.

A big month for auto sales?
Maybe. projects automakers will post U.S. sales at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14.3 million for February, the highest sales rate in four years.

Among U.S. automakers, Ford Motor (F) sales are expected to rise to 178,000, up 30.8% from January and 14.1% from a year ago.

General Motors (GM) is seen as reporting 194,000 sales, up 15.8% from January but down 6.1% from a year ago.

Chrysler Group should sell 121,000, up 19.8% from January and 27.4% year-over-year.

Ford was up 7 cents to $12.30. GM had added 39 cents to $26.46.

Crude oil, gold fall back
Crude oil settled down fell $1.21 to $108.56a barrel, its first decline after seven straight increases. Crude had finished Friday at $109.77, its highest close since May 2011. Brent crude, the benchmark North Sea oil, was down $123.74.

Gasoline at the pump was up a penny to $3.698 a gallon, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Gasoline is up 12.9% for the year and up 10.3% from a year ago.

The oil decline was said to be due to a reluctance of the Group of 20 nations to agree to boosting lending resources to Europe, raising fears the European debt crisis will continue to weigh on the global economy.

Gold (-GC) settled down $1.50 to $1774.90. Silver (-SI) added to 20.7 cents to $35.545, and and copper (-HG) rose 1.8 cents to 3.8805 a pound.

Interest rates were lower, with the 10-year Treasury yield falling to 1.922% from 1.977% on Friday. The dollar was higher against major currencies.

Short hits from the markets -- New York close



Month chg.

YTD chg.
Treasury yields

13-week Treasury bill

0.1000%  0.090%

0.00%  900.00%
5-year Treasury note 

0.845%  0.894%

0.00%  1.81%
10-year Treasury note

1.922%  1.977%

6.84%  2.73%
30-year Treasury bond

3.040%  3.098%

3.61%  5.23%

U.S. Dollar Index

78.578  78.401  -1.06%  -2.41%
British pound

1.5828  1.5900  0.25%  1.87%
(in U.S. $)

U.S. $ in pounds

£0.632  £0.629  -0.25%  -1.83%
Euro in dollars

$1.34  $1.35  2.00%  3.44%
(in U.S. $)

U.S. $ in euros

€ 0.746  € 0.742  -1.96%  -3.33%
U.S. $ in yen 

80.65  81.60  5.48%   4.60%
U.S. $ in Chinese

6.32  6.32  -0.08%  -0.04%

Canada dollar

$1.002  $0.999  0.04%  2.10%
(in U.S. $)

U.S. dollar 

$0.999  $1.000  -0.09%  -2.06%
(in Canadian $)





Gold (-GC)




(per troy ounce)

Copper (-HG)




(per pound)

Silver (-SI)




(per troy ounce)

Wheat (-ZW)




(per bushel)

Corn (-ZC)




(per bushel)





(per pound)





(per pound)

Crude oil (-CL)




(per barrel)


Feb 27, 2012 4:12PM
These positive stats always amaze me.  How can anything in the economy be getting better when unemployment is still almost 9% and gas prices are over $3.50 a gallon and going higher.  Does not compute.
Feb 27, 2012 4:13PM
Its amazing to me that DESPITE the announcement that demand for oil is at its LOWEST point since 1997, that oil speculators have driven the prices up once again on panic fears. The Us doesnt even use the Iranian OIL with most going to Europe. They are greedy and need ALL the money they can get. OPEC has already said it would make up ANY drop with increased production. Also that oil prices SHOULD BE about the 60-70 a barrel range!?  So why is congress, BOTH PARTIES doing nothing to stop this speculation on oil futures? We have 700 MILLION barrels in reserve, the president should start by releaseing them. Then when the prices start dropping all that NEW MONEY that flowed into OIL since the new year may begin to sell off. EVEN WHEN ISRAEL totally destroys Iran, they will have little military might to proceed with ANY TREATS against shipping!  Contact your congressmen and DEMAND they do something, Fuel prices are DESTROYING OUR ECONOMY!!
Feb 27, 2012 4:19PM
Thats not amazing. When our economy is Bad, we use less Oil. Period     Look at the last  40  Years.    Our economy sucks right now     No matter what our gobment says
Feb 27, 2012 4:03PM


         Not for nothing,But I'm still following the "Winterization Index". Here in the northeast I am working part time helping a friend of mine complete winterizations on bank owned properties. We have been averaging 4 a day,seven days a week. The average de-winterization has been 3 a month. And the houses that have been purchased from the bank have not been by the average joe with a wife and kids,mostly multiple property owners that I see. Just my observation...

Feb 27, 2012 4:17PM
Feb 27, 2012 4:46PM
another  record profit year for the oil companies
Feb 27, 2012 3:15PM
Its just amazing to me that pundits say the real estate market is improving when foreclosures have not bottomed out. All this feel good news when  the price of gas is reaching almost  five bucks a gallon in some parts of the country.
Feb 27, 2012 2:57PM
Feb 27, 2012 2:40PM
Gas at $4.30 a gallon for regular?  A perfect example of Hope and Change we can believe in= SCREW THE PEOPLE
Feb 27, 2012 3:04PM
they use the words "Evidence Suggests"   what Evidence?? .. evidence  money is changing hands, and sales being made!   "actual Movement"  ..  pending is a BIG maybe and does not warrant the attention of common sense thinking.  what is the mind set here? .. throw the dogs a bone and see if they bite.?
 and all this Good Consumer Sentiment crap I'm hearing?   well I don't know about that,  after filling up at the gas station my sentiment was not very high, and neither is anyone else I know!        
Feb 27, 2012 5:38PM
Too bad...I thought oil was down because someone lined up all the pc of crap speculators and shot them in the head ( or put them in jail...whichever makes more sense to you.)
Feb 27, 2012 5:42PM
To the (TO BIG TO FAIL) and the (TO BIG TO JAIL)   This our country our land.  You will not take it away from us. You will not enslave us.
Feb 27, 2012 5:42PM
Perhaps it's time to start pumping crude from the strategic oil reserve.  At least threatening to do that might make a lot of speculators bail out and collapse the price of oil.
Feb 27, 2012 3:01PM

6 years from now our GDP will be 25 trillion so we will still be at the same debt levels.


We had 8 years to balance the budget MG we didnt do it.


 Dont act like if we win in November we will balnce the budget because we wont.

Feb 27, 2012 4:41PM
If the U.S. had a normal winter this year, the unemployment rate would be up another full 1%  and the housing market would be in free fall.
Feb 27, 2012 6:12PM
I guess the oil market did not have anything to do with the downfall of the US economy when the price went out of sight and nobody had money to eat and pay their mortgages for haveing to pay everything they made for gas! The speculators made a killing on that deal.
Feb 27, 2012 3:16PM
If the oil industry wants to choke our economy to death, the government needs to step in and regulate it. Every time our economy gets a spark and starts to turn around, oil jumps up so that consumers can buy nothing but gasoline for their vehicles. And I don't understand why we are so dependent on foreign oil. A news report on TV the other  night shows the U.S. as being the SECOND leading exporter of energy, including oil. Does that make any sense at all? Obama needs to wake up. As they say " either sh*t or get off the pot".
Feb 27, 2012 2:39PM
Nice little turn around....So far.....Do not take anything for granted; seems like we hit a wall and cant get any higher. Plenty of manipulators on the prowl...Be cautious...Still over 2 hours to go.
Feb 27, 2012 3:31PM
Manipulated lies and twisted data. The government and flunky beancounter minions are just telling us this because (1) it's what we want to hear....truth? you can't HANDLE the TRUTH!  and (2) they want us to piss away even more money so the elites can get it. I have to keep saying it; there will be no recovery.....COMPRES​SIVE DEFLATIONARY CONTRACTION whether you choose to believe it or not. Wake up!
Feb 27, 2012 4:31PM
Thirty five long minutes to go. Will we close above 13,000? At 1517 hrs manipulators started doing their thing. Like we always warn, do not ever take these scumbags for granted, you blink and they have done their cheating...We will see if we can hang on.
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