SUSIE GHARIB: Broad-based buying meant lots of green here today, just two days before St. Patrick’s Day. So let’s take a look now in tonight’s “Market Focus.”
The S&P 500 was big news here at the Big Board. The index of large
U.S. companies closed above the 1,400 milestone for the first time since
the financial crisis in 2008. The S&P 500 is now up 11 percent this year.
And those 500 firms are paying a record amount of cash in dividends to
shareholders. Dividend increases this week by banks such as JPMorgan
(NYSE:JPM) helped push the payouts to a new high.
And S&P’s Howard Silverblatt predicts 60 percent of S&P 500 firms will
up their dividends this year as the economy improves.
Now financials were one of the hottest sectors in the S&P today.
Those Fed stress test results that we’ve been reporting about continue to
breath new life into the group. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) gained 4.5
percent. It was the Dow’s best performer today. Citi and JPMorgan
(NYSE:JPM) both added about 3 percent. And Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) up 2
Now another sector also attracting big buying today, out-of-favor coal
mining stocks. One analyst said the group may have finally bottomed and
offers good value for investors. So Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI), Alpha Natural
Resources (NYSE:ANR), and Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) each rose more than 5
In merger news, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) Systems announced a $5 billion
deal to buy video software maker NDS Group from News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS).
News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS)., you know, owns FOX News and The Wall Street
Journal. Shares of News Corp (NASDAQ:NWS). rose $0.15 to close at $20.43,
while Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) lost $0.29. But it is the biggest deal for Cisco
(NASDAQ:CSCO) in two years, and a reflection of its focus on video.
Now in other big deals, General Electric (NYSE:GE) is taking a 30
percent stake in Howard Energy Partners (NYSE:EPL). Howard is a natural
gas pipeline operator in the booming Eagle Ford Shale Fields of South
Texas. The price tag was not disclosed, but the deal is expected to close
And other investors include CrossTex Energy and Quanta Services
(NYSE:PWR). Each saw modest gains, while GE rose nearly 2 percent.
Turning now to the busy IPO market, cloud-computer company Demandware
got off to a celestial start. Demandware, ticker symbol D-W-R-E, surged
nearly 50 percent today. It offered more than 5 million shares at a
starting price of $16. Demandware is the fifth cloud-based software firm
to go public in the last few months.
M/A-Com Technology Solutions, ticker symbol M-T-S-I, also went public
today. The company makes semiconductors used in automotive navigation
systems. The shares gained a modest 8 percent from the IPO price of $19.
And finally tonight, CSX (NYSE:CSX) was the biggest mover in the S&P
500. Shares of the railroad giant jumped more than 8 percent to close at
$21 and change after the company’s CFP predicted record first-quarter
earnings. CSX (NYSE:CSX) is considered an economic bellwether, and
executives credited the improving economy for their upbeat forecast.