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Despite S&P 500's New High, Stocks Face Challenges

Benzinga.com
0 Comments| April 1, 2014

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Stocks ended the first quarter with a big rally; the Standard & Poor's 500 Index actually closed -- barely -- at a new high. The fact is, however, that the market overall was a muddle -- and likely to stay that way. And second quarters are often dicey.

On the Surface

The S&P 500 finished up nearly 15 points to 1,872.34 on Monday, breaking its old record of 1,872.25, set on March 18. It's up 1.3% for the year. The Nasdaq Composite rose 43 points, or 1%, to 4,199 and is sporting a small gain for the year, 0.5%. The Dow Jones industrials, up 135 points (0.8%) to 16,458, are still down slightly on the year -- about 0.7%.

The one-day gains for the Index, the Dow, and the Nasdaq Composite were their best in two weeks. The S&P 500 and the Dow ended March with their second monthly gains in a row, up 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively. But the Nasdaq fell 2.5% for the month and for the second time in three months.

The market overall gained support from energy and utility stocks. About 288 S&P 500 stocks were higher, led by First Solar (NYSE: FSLR) and steel-maker Allegheny Technologies Inc. (NYSE: ATI), up 22% and 18.6%, respectively.

So much for the surface numbers. This is one of those markets where you must dig through the numbers to get a clear understanding of what happened. March and the quarter didn't treat all stocks alike.

Digging ...

Click to enlargeMore...


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