(XHB) Stock Market News for September 24, 2012

Benchmarks ended almost flat on Friday despite the initial push by Spain’s bailout hopes and the initiation of Apple’s iPhone 5 sales. Investors cheered Apple’s recent event and helped its shares to reach a lifetime high. Unfortunately, the benchmarks ended the week on a losing note following the past few weeks of robust wins.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) lost 0.1% to end at 13,579.47. The Standard & Poor 500 (S&P 500) slipped a paltry 0.11 point or 0.01% to finish Friday’s trading session at 1,460.15. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.1% to close at 3,179.96. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) down 0.6% to settle at 13.98. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq were roughly 7.92 billion shares. The advancers on the New York Stock Exchange outpaced the declining stocks; as for 57% stocks that gained, 40% stocks closed lower.

For the week, the Dow slipped 0.1%, the S&P 500 shed 0.4% and Nasdaq lost 0.1%. The weekly loss came after the benchmarks enjoyed robust gains in past few weeks. For the week ending September 21, benchmarks mostly had a quiet session as investors opted for a respite following the robust rally in previous week that was spurred by the Fed’s announcement of the additional monetary stimulus. There were also a bagful of economic readings that were released through the week, most of which were discouraging. Among them, initial claims for unemployment benefits was around two-month high, manufacturing suffered the weakest quarter in three years and leading indicators declined in August in the U.S. Separately, manufacturing activity declined in China as well as Europe. Eventually, with the lack of major catalysts to drive the benchmarks higher, benchmarks suffered weekly losses.

Coming back to Friday’s actions, debt-laden Spain moved closer to get the next tranche of bailout package as it was considering cutting the pension spending and trying its best efforts to meet the conditions for an international sovereign aid package. Speculation for bailout increased as Spain and European Union officials were negotiating on a new economic reform program that may help Spain to request for financial aid. Germany’s finance minister on the other hand said that Spain doesn’t need the bailout from Europe.

Meanwhile, Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 hit the stores last Friday. Following this, the shares of the world’s most valuable company, in terms of market capitalization, rose 0.2% to close at $700.09. Separately, Oracle Corporation’s (NASDAQ:ORCL) first quarter earnings missed the Street estimates.

Following the discouraging economic readings a day back, the Labor Department reported on Friday that unemployment rate rose in 26 states last month. Moreover, The World Trade Organization lowered its forecasts for growth in the current and the next year for international trade.

Coming to the sectors, the SPDR S&P Homebuilders (XHB) jumped 1% and stocks including KB Home (NYSE:KBH), PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM), Lennar Corp. (NYSE:LEN), Beazer Homes USA Inc. (NYSE:BZH) and Meritage Homes Corporation (NYSE:MTH) soared 16.4%, 1.6%, 2.5%, 7% and 4.9%, respectively.

However, the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) was down almost 1.1% and stocks such as The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO), Walgreen Company (NYSE:WAG), The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) and Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE:CL) plunged 1.6%, 1.2%, 0.9%, 0.4%, 0.2% and 0.2%, respectively.

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