February 24, 2014: Markets opened higher on Monday on their way to a solid gain. The energy sector led the markets today as crude prices jumped on concerns over unrest in the Middle East and a sharp rise in speculative long positions in the week ending last Tuesday. In the final minutes of trading the DJIA was up 0.91%, the S&P 500 was up 0.86%, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.90%.
Today’s big mover among the Dow 30 stocks was UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH). Shares traded up 3% at $76.01 in a 52-week range of $52.71 to $77.33 just ahead of the closing bell. The company reported this morning that the online payment system it introduced in July has been a big success. UnitedHealth’s volume is on track to be nearly double the daily average of around 4.7 million shares traded.
General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) is another Dow 30 stock that is having a good day on Monday. The stock was trading up 1.72% at $25.37, in a 52-week range of $21.11 to $28.09. GE said today that it plans to spend another $10 billion on energy projects like waterless fracking and increasing turbine efficiency. The company’s share volume was about 25% below the daily average of around 38 million shares traded.
Among actively traded Nasdaq shares, TriQuint Semiconductor Inc. (NASDAQ: TQNT) is up 26.44% at $11.66 with just a few minutes to go before closing. The company is merging with RF Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: RFMD) at a share price of around $9.73 per share. Clearly investors are looking for a bidding war. Trading volume was more than 23-times the daily average of some 2.2 million shares.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) is looking at a share price drop of 7% to $5.24 as the closing bell approaches. Penney’s reports earnings on Wednesday and the outlook based on the company’s own preliminary report is not encouraging. Share volume was about equal to the daily average of nearly 30 million shares traded.
Of the Dow 30 stocks 24 are set to close higher today while 6 are on their way to a lower close.