Markets End Flat as Wal-Mart Executives Complain of "Total Disaster" on Sales

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The Dow climbed by 0.1% and the S&P 500 fell by the same amount today. There was some intraday volatility caused by news from Wal-Mart as internal company e-mails surfaced with executives complaining about February sales being a "total disaster", which led to a selloff in the markets at the final hour of trading. The S&P 500 bounced off support in the 1514 range and moved higher to finish the day flat.

The S&P 500 broke out of a short term range last Friday and ended up 0.12% on the week. With little follow through, the market consolidated instead. Resistance for the index is around 1524, this week's high, and then in the 1530 range.

The preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment survey for this month came in at 76.3 versus a consensus estimate of 73.5. The sharp rise in equity prices year to date helped to boost the reading above analyst expectations. 

Wal-Mart fell to a low on the day of $68.13 after the internal e-mail hit the press wires. Shares rallied to close at $69.30, down over 2%. The e-mail cited a reduction in consumer spending due to the increase in payroll taxes and higher gas prices.

Consumer staples outperformed the market today. Campbell Soup, J. M. Smucker and Kraft Foods all advanced after they announced better than expected earnings.

Energy stocks came under pressure today as the sector traded lower by 1.4%. Gold fell by 1.6%, now off 10% from its October high. The move in gold has been the inverse of the move higher in the stock market from the fiscal cliff induced selling late last year.

Source: PFS Group

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