Stocks ended mixed in a dramatic finish Monday as the market was buzzing about President Obama's press conference on the economy tomorrow.
Stocks started the day sharply lower, retreating after a five-week rally, as investors braced for this week's round of earnings and a potential bankruptcy filing by General Motors.
“It’s time for a pullback, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves … The news out there is still pretty tepid,” Dave Rovelli, managing director of equities at Canaccord Adams, told CNBC this morning.
“[Y] ou’ve gotta take some profits,” Rovelli said. “I just wouldn’t chase stocks in this environment.”
Stocks began to pare their losses in afternoon trading amid bargain hunting. All three major indexes were briefly higher amid expectations about what the president will say tomorrow.
The president is expected to talk about how the administration's recession-busting actions fit into his broader plan to get the economy back on track, and what still needs to be done.
But, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tipped into negative territory in the final minutes of trading, ending down 25.57, or 0.3 percent, at 8,057.81, amid worries about General Motors. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended up 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
Shares of General Motors tumbled 16 percent as the Treasury Department instructed the auto maker to prepare for a bankruptcy filingby a June 1 deadline.
The government is looking at a plan that would bring GMout of bankruptcy quickly, but GM CEO Fritz Henderson said the company can still survive without filing for protection, the New York Times reported.
Boeing shares skidded 5.1 percent after the aerospace giant issued a profit warning late Thursday, citing the impact of lower-than-expected airplane prices.
Analysts responded Monday: Jefferies slashed its price target and and earnings forecaston Boeing but maintained a "buy rating on the stock. Cowen, however, slashed its rating on the stock to "underperform" from "neutral," citing the impact of Pentagon budget cuts announced last week.
Today was supposed to be quiet on the earnings front, but Goldman Sachs unexpectedly reported after the closing bell, beating estimateswith earnings of $3.39 a share.
Goldman also announced a $5 billion offering of common stock, which it plans to use to pay the government back for TARP funds it received.
Tomorrow brings reports from Johnson & Johnson and Intel .
Financial stocks ended higher after a weak start as investors wondered weather last week's surprise forecast from Wells Fargo indicated a turning point for the sector.
The pros were mixed: KBW bank cut its rating on Wells Fargo to "underperform" from "market perform," saying much of the positive news in the bank's preannouncement was due to merger accounting (re. it's merger with Wachovia), revised accounting standards and mortgage-default moratoriums, and that the bank will still be hit by economic weakness.
But Rochdale Securities analyst Dick Bove said he's still got a "buy" rating on Wells Fargo as he believes the bears have a point but still sees the bank's business is improving rapidly.
Bove's also got a "buy" rating on JPMorgan,saying the bank is "clearly not insolvent," though he conceded that the bank's provisions for loan loasss would remain high for the next few years.
We'll find out if Wells Fargo was a turning point or a fluke later in the week, with earnings reports due from JPMorgan , Citigroup and CNBC parent General Electric .
Bank of America, which saw its shares jump 25 percent today, reports next Monday.
Investment strategist Abby Joseph Cohen said she thinks the worst may be over for stocks— and the economy.
"[S]omething has changed over the past month and that is that the consensus numbers aren’t being adjusted very much," Cohen, president of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, told CNBC. "I think that means that many investors now believe that the forecasts are finally as low as they need to be.”
Still, as worries about GM boil, the CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, rose to near 40. Still, Goldman Sachs notes that the one-month implied S&P 500 index volatility is down 12 percent so far this quarter, when it is typically up 10 percent at this point in earnings season.
Investors cheered news that Express Scripts will buy the NextRx prescription-drug businessof WellPoint for $4.68 billion in a significant expansion for the pharmacy-benefits manager.
Shares of Express Scripts jumped 16 percent, while WellPoint gained 8 percent.
Yahoo shares jumped 7 percent amid buzz that the Internet portal is in a fresh round of talks with Microsoft about possible search and advertising partnerships. Microsoft shares slipped.
There were no major economic reports today, though key inflation and housing numbers are slated for later in the week.
Still to Come:
TUESDAY: Retail sales; PPI; business inventories; Earnings from J&J, Goldman Sachs, Philips Electronics, Intel and CSX
WEDNESDAY: Weekly mortgage applications; NY Fed Empire State survey; CPI; industrial production; weekly crude inventories; NAHB housing index; Fed's beige book; Earnings from Abbott Labs
THURSDAY: Housing starts; weekly jobless claims: Philly Fed survey; Fed's Lockhart, Yellen speak; Earnings from JPMorgan, Harley-Davidson, Nokia, Southwest Air and Google
FRIDAY: CNBC's 20th Anniversary; consumer sentiment; Bernanke speaks; Earnings from Citigroup, GE and Mattel
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