Stocks drifted higher Monday in a fourth consecutive listless session. Traders waited for corporate financial results to start rolling in so they could look for clues about the economy.
In the unofficial kickoff to earnings season, Alcoa, considered an economic bellwether because so many companies use its products, said it lost $34 million from October through December because of lower demand for aluminum.
The loss amounted to 3 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet, a provider of financial data, had expected a loss of 2 cents per share. Alcoa said revenue was $6 billion, compared with an estimate of $5.7 billion.The results were released after the market closed for the day. Alcoa stock finished up 2.9 percent, the biggest gain of the 30 companies in the Dow Jones industrial average. It was little changed in after-hours trading. The Dow closed up 32.77 points, or 0.3 percent, at 12,392.69. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 2.89 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,280.70. The Nasdaq composite index rose 2.34, or 0.1 percent, to 2,676.56. Stock trading has been subdued in recent days. The Dow's high and low were only 75 points apart Monday. In all of 2011, trading was that narrow on only 26 days. In the final five months, the average daily swing was 249 points. The broader market has been calm, too. The S&P rose 19 points Jan. 3, the first trading day of the year, but has risen or fallen by less than four points each of the following four days. Volume was light Monday, as it has been all but one trading day this year, at 3.28 billion shares. Last year, about 4.3 billion shares changed hands on an average day. Other markets were fairly quiet. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 1.96 percent from 1.97 percent Friday.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV