Stocks are looking higher this morning after markets worldwide rode the wave of Wall Street's record-setting session yesterday. Wall Street was greeted this morning by merger news involving one of its own. Wachovia is buying Midwest broker A.G. Edwards for $6.8 billion, ranking the combined firm as one of the Street's biggest brokers and giving a big endorsement to the prospects for the retail brokerage and asset management businesses.
Riding the rally is the theme of the day, but some key data could influence the tone including preliminary first quarter GDP, which is expected to be weak. Chicago purchasing managers, April construction spending and weekly jobless claims are also reported this morning. On CNBC and CNBC.com today, we will look at the focus of the individual investor -- what they are doing with their money and what they are buying in the market?
Party Like It's 1999
Indeed, the stock market saw something yesterday it hasn't seen since Dec. 31, 1999 - record closes for the Dow 30 and the S&P 500 on the same day. The late-day rally was a surprise after the market's initial sleepy reaction to the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes. The Fed in its release yesterday said the housing market correction will probably "persist longer than previously anticipated."
"The minutes did make a difference. You can take it on one hand that there was no surprising hawkishness but by talking about less GDP and less housing, they still reinforced the idea that maybe the Fed will ease. lt's crazy, but nonetheless traders were talking about it," says CNBC's Rick Santelli. This follows on several sessions of creeping worries about rising bond rates that some stock traders fear could start to hurt stocks.
The Dow rocketed in the final hour, closing up 111 at 13,636, its 47th record since October and its biggest point gain since April 25. The Dow so far is up 4.4% for the month and 9.4% for the year to date.
The S&P 500, after flirting with its record last week, finally shattered its March, 2000 record of 1,527 with a 12 point move that took it to 1,530. For the month, the index is up 3.2%, and for the year, it is 7.9% higher.
Nasdaq rose 20 points to 2592, a 6-1/4-year high but still only about half way back to its record close of 5,048 from March 2000. The Nasdaq is up 2.7% during May, and up 7.3% year to date. It is no surprise when you look at the tech-heavy Nasdaq that it is information technology stocks that have been the worst performers since the S&P 500 was last at this level. That sector is down 60% since March 25, 2000, according to our stocks data guru Robert Hum. Also no surprise is that it is energy leading the way higher, with a 150% gain during that time.
Crude is slightly lower this morning ahead of inventory data. Overnight tonight, oil starts to trade in Dubai on the new Dubai Mercantile Exchange where Middle East "sour" crude futures will trade as the dominant contract over New York's Texas tea WTI or London's North Sea Brent.
China's rocky move to stem the speculation in its stock market was ultimately ignored on Wall Street yesterday after initially jolting markets around the globe. "(Traders) were talking about it before the open, but now it's over before it even started. There's such limited access to Shanghai. It becomes a non story just about as quickly as it becomes a story," says our Scott Wapner, who was covering the markets yesterday from the New York Stock Exchange.