March 25, 2014: Markets opened higher on Tuesday but dipped sharply in the late morning on weakness in consumer discretionary, financial, and biotech stocks. The Dow and the S&P 500 held on to decent gains, but the Nasdaq spent some of the day in the red before poking above the break even line in mid-afternoon. In the final minutes of trading the DJIA was up 0.60%, the S&P 500 was up 0.44%, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.16%.
Today’s big market mover among the DJIA stocks was International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) which added 3.62% to trade at $195.06 in a 52-week range of $172.19 to $214.89 just ahead of the closing bell. Volume was on track to be more than 80% higher than the daily average of around 5 million shares traded. The company had no big news today, but did announce new partnerships with PSA Peugeot Citroen and Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI).
Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) continues to bounce around. After shares slipped more than 1% yesterday, they have popped back up 2.70% to $55.23 in a 52-week range of $43.77 to $57.65. Share volume was about equal to the daily average of around 12.5 million shares traded. There is a report that Sanofi (NYSE: SFY) may join the line of potential buyers for Merck’s consumer health business.
Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) is the lowest priced stock among the Dow 30 and it did what it could today to boost the markets higher. Shares traded up 3.38% at $22.30. It’s a bit difficult to see what all the excitement’s about. Cisco did say yesterday that it would invest $1 billion in a cloud-computing initiative, but that doesn’t completely explain the jump the stock took today. Trading volume for Cisco’s shares was about 10% higher the daily average of around 42 million shares traded.
And the Nasdaq’s bounce back into positive territory may have been the work of Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUG). The stock traded up 46.40% today at $8.32 in a 52-week range of $0.15 to $11.72. The company’s CEO said that Plug Power has signed an additional order with a global automaker. An official announcement will come in the next 2 or 3 weeks. Trading volume was about triple the daily average of around 45 million shares traded.
Of the Dow 30 stocks 9 are set to close lower today and 21 are on their way to a higher close.