Groupon’s Upgrade, Cliff’s Slashed Dividend, and Cisco’s Earnings: Market Recap

The S&P 500 advanced just past 15,520 points on Wednesday to close at its highest level since October 2007, simultaneously spurring optimism among bullish investors and concern from those who think the market is overbought. Many investors are looking closely at fundamental economic indicators in the wake of the President’s State of the Union address, trying to gauge how his fiscal initiatives will play out over the coming year. The U.S. Department of Commerce reported retail sales and manufacturing and trade inventories today.

At the close: DJIA: -0.26%, S&P 500: +0.06%, NASDAQ: +0.33%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell 0.38 percent to $97.14 per barrel after the EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed a 0.6 million-barrel increase in crude inventories to 372.2 million barrels, well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of the year. The national average price for regular gasoline for the week ended February 8 increased for the eighth consecutive period to $3.611 per gallon, a 2.5 percent year-over-year gain.

Precious metals were down, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) futures for April delivery, the most active contract, falling $4.50 to settle at $1,645.10 per ounce, while Silver (NYSE:SLV) futures for March dropped 15 cents to close at $30.87. Both precious metals remain stuck in consolidation mode, despite an outlook from the United Kingdom saying inflation will remain above the 2 percent target rate for the next two years. (Read more.)

The yield on the 10-year T-Bill increased 0.050 points to 2.028 percent, flirting with levels not seen since April 2012.

Here’s your Cheat Sheet to today’s top stock stories…

GrouponGroupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) closed the day up 5.39 percent following an upgrade from Neutral to Buy from Sterne Agee. The daily-deals company is now up more than 100 percent since November, as investors pile behind the bullish argument that Groupon will be able to successfully redefine itself as a robust e-commerce platform. Fun fact: the stock is up 57 percent since Tiger Global Management, the hedge fund run by Chase Coleman, announced a 9.9 percent stake… (Read more.)

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) got slapped with a $1 million fine from federal safety investigators over an August fire at a refinery in Richmond, California. Investigators found that the cause of the incident was negligence, as the pipe that broke was heavily corroded and improperly treated. The facility is not scheduled to restart production until the end of March… (Read more.)

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF) received no love from investors on Wednesday following its fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results. Shares closed the regular session down 19.99 percent as the mining and natural-resources company announced an 11-percent decline in revenues and slashed its dividend by 76 percent… (Read more.)

Man Measuring MoneyCisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) reported fiscal second-quarter earnings that came in ahead of expectations, but the company’s shares still fell in after-hours trading. Revenue growth of 5 percent to $12.10 billion and earnings of $0.51 per share edged narrowly ahead of expectations, and guidance for the third quarter is largely in line with expectations for between 4 and 6 percent revenue growth and earnings between $0.48 and $0.50 per share.

Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM) tanked over 6 percent in after-hours trading following its fiscal first-quarter results. The decline is largely due to softening comparable-store sales growth, which fell from 14.1 percent to 13.7 percent between the fourth quarter and the third quarter, and to 12.5 percent in the current quarter to date.

Worldwide sales of mobile phones declined in 2012, the first drop since 2009. To be clear, this measure of mobile phones includes both smartphones and traditional cellphones. Taken separately, smartphone sales to end users continued to climb, according to data released by research firm Gartner. The data also show which major smartphone manufacturers sold the most phones last year… (Read more.)

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