Market Wrap: Keeping Up with the 'Fed'-dashians; 79% of Banks Pass Stress Tests; Retail Sales Go Streaking

March 13, 2012 5:44 PM EDT
Market wrap-up for March 13th

End of the Day: Dow Jones up 218.0 to 13,177.68; Nasdaq up 56.2 to 3,039.88; S&P up 24.9 to 1,395.95

The following is a brief summary of events moving markets today:
  • We're doing well enough to stave off QE3, for now: The mysterious Fed stayed so Tuesday, keeping rates low and offering little in the way of specific economic guidance. The Fed said labor market conditions improved further; the unemployment rate has declined notably in recent months but remains elevated. Household spending and business fixed investment have continued to advance." For more color, click here.

  • Here's how to start a rally. Pay attention: J.P. Morgan (NYSE: JPM) gave the market a late rally following an announcement it boosted its quarterly dividend by 20 percent to 30 cents per share. At its current trading level, yield on the dividend is about 2.8 percent. Further, J.P. Morgan also announced a $15 billion common stock buyback plan. The announcement sent equities higher and J.P. Morgan ended above 7 percent better for the session.

  • In other banking news: The Fed issued results of its latest stress test, and results showed 15 of 19 total institutions passed. Not passing were MetLife (NYSE: MET), SunTrust (NYSE: STI), Ally Financial, and Citigroup (NYSE: C).

    According to the statement, the stress tests includes a peak unemployment rate of 13 percent, a 50 percent drop in equity prices, and a 21 percent decline in housing prices. Of the total 19 banks, losses were estimated to be $$534 billion.

    For more from the Fed statement, click here.

  • An official retail streak: Markets also got a boost from retail sales today as well. According to data from the Commerce Department, retails sales rose 1.1 percent in February, continuing a 0.6 percent jump in January. Numbers show this was the fifth straight month showing an increase in retail sales.

    At auto dealers, sakes rose 1.6 percent for the month, reversing a loss from the prior month.

  • Zynga doesn't want to be like its peers: Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA) shares saw an afternoon drop following headlines the company is looking to have larger shareholders hang on to shares a little while longer.

    Following an IPO in December, Zynga is considering allowing large shareholders to sell common stock in exchange for an extended lock-up period. The current lock-up period is expected to end sometime around June 16th.

  • We now know where Scrooge McDuck keeps his gold doubloons: Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) closed up nearly 3 percent Tuesday, which for Apple means adding roughly $15 billion to $16 billion to its market cap. Apple now is outpacing Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) by more than $120 billion. Much of the move came in the afternoon, but after observing shares there was really no pullback on the session.

    Earlier in the session, Jefferies boosted its price target on Apple to a very retail-sounding $699.
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