And, of course, we can't forget about the unrest shaking northern Africa and the Persian Gulf region. Riots and protests are ongoing and we're in the midst of a very dramatic shift in power in this oil-rich region. Although we can expect some slowing down in the rampant speculation of recent weeks, commodity prices will continue to be heavily tied to the future unfolding in this part of the world.
Nasdaq Composite (Figure 3)
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($DJI) had a gain of 59.79 points, or 0.5%, and closed at 12,044.40 on Friday. The day's top performers in the Dow were 3M (MMM) (+1.78%), Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) (+1.66%), Alcoa (AA) (+1.46%), and General Electric (GE) (+1.29%). Only four of the Dow's thirty index components posted a loss. They were led by the telecoms. Verizon (VZ) fell 1.51%, while AT&T (T) ended the session lower by 0.52%. The Dow finished lower on the week by 1.03%.
The S&P 500 ($SPX) rose 9.17 points, or 0.71%, and closed at 1,304.28. Tesoro Corp. (TSO) (+8.45) was the strongest performer in the index on Friday. It was followed by Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT) (+6.62%), Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) (+6.31%), and Weyerhaeuser Co. (WY) (+6.23%). The weakest percentage performers on Friday were Starbucks (SBUX) (-3.71%), Tenet Healthcare (THC) (-2.07%), Netapp Inc. (NTAP) (-1.84%), and Supervalu (SVU) (-1.69%). The S&P finished lower on the week by 1.28%.
The Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) ended the session higher by 14.59 points, or 0.54%, on Friday and it closed at 2,715.61. The strongest stocks in the Nasdaq-100 were Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) (+3.68%), Baidu Inc. (BIDU) (+3.38%), Amgen Inc. (AMGN) (+3.26%), and Micron Technology (MU) (+3.23%). The weakest were Starbucks (SBUX) (-3.71%), Warner Chilcott (WCRX) (-2.58%), Netapp (NTAP) (-1.84%), and Costco (COST) (-1.13%). The Nasdaq Composite ended the week lower by 2.48%.
The economic data on Friday did not have a large impact on the day's price action, but March's consumer sentiment fell from 77.5 in February to 68.2. Business inventories rose 2% in January, which is the fastest pace in nine months, while February retail sales rose from 0.7% in January to 1%. This was the largest gain since October, but in line with expectations.
Unless otherwise stated, the index action described in this article relates to the E-mini futures contracts for the respective indices. Actual index action may differ slightly in terms of pattern formation, although the market bias will remain the same.
Toni Hansen is president and co-founder of the Bastiat Group Inc., DBA Trading From Main Street. Toni is one of the most respected technical analysts and traders in the industry. She has been trading and educating new traders, money managers, professional market analysts and traders throughout the boom and bust of the last decade. She has worked in conjunction with some of the world's top financial exchanges. Learn more about Toni Hansen and the educational services she provides through her website at http://www.tonihansen.com.