Market Recap: Stocks Close Strongest January of the Century

Markets closed mixed on Wall Street today: Dow -0.16%, S&P -0.04%, Nasdaq +0.07%, Oil -0.35%, Gold +0.47%.

On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell slightly to $98.43 a barrel. Precious metals were mixed, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) climbing to $1,742.60 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 1.12% to settle at $33.15.

Hot Feature: IRS Delays Refunds

Today’s markets were mixed because:

1) Summit. European Union leaders agreed Monday to strengthen the region’s financial firewall while all but two of the group’s 27 member nations agreed to sign a new fiscal compact that would impose quasi-automatic sanctions on countries that breach budget deficit limits and enshrine balanced budget rules in national law. However, the first summit of the year ended without new solutions for the debt crisis in Greece. Athens has yet to reach a deal with private creditors on restructuring its debt, and without a deal, the government jeopardizes its access to bailout funds it needs to meet a 14.5 billion-euro bond payment due on March 20. If Greece is unable to make the payment, it will go into default. 

2) Reports. The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index today showed the value of U.S. homes to have dropped 1.3 percent in November from the previous month. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index was also released today, and showed consumer confidence to have declined slightly in January when economists had predicted improving sentiment. But while worse-than-expected economic data tempered the morning’s gains, it wasn’t enough to prevent markets from holding on to the best January of the 21st Century.

3) Earnings. RadioShack (NYSE:RSH) shares plunged after the electronics retailer warned Monday that its fourth-quarter earnings will fall short of expectations. Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) reported a jump in quarterly earnings, but Edward Jones described the oil giant’s fourth-quarter results as “mediocre” and said the company’s “downstream unit” — that which deals in chemicals and engine lubricants — is down. Exxon shares tumbled today, while Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) shares surged after the toymaker’s quarterly earnings beat Wall Street’s estimates and raised its annual dividend 35 percent. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) also beat Wall Street’s expectations on earnings and revenue, but was hurt in the fourth quarter by the loss of its patent for cholesterol drug Lipitor, causing shares to slide lower.

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