Today's markets should have taken a cue from Mark Twain's famous quip: "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." Instead, the S&P 500 (IINDEX: ^GSPC) was surprised by the Obamacare ruling and fell sharply after the news broke, only to recover at the end of the day for a loss of only 0.21%. Conventional wisdom held that the controversial mandate in today's Supreme Court ruling seemed doomed, while many expected the rest of the law to remain. Even most Democrats disliked the mandate, and a majority of analysts expected the court to overturn it; yet, it remained fully intact.
Jobless claims also spiked last week, up 6,000 to 386,000. Across the pond, European leaders provided no real news for the market to digest. As expected, they approved Cyprus' bailout, and failed to agree on tackling the crisis. Few were surprised that German Chancellor Angela Merkel "was very adamant about the fact she isn’t going to give an inch or two," as Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson and Co. reported. However, late reports indicating some positives from the summit almost brought the markets back to even.
On a volatile day like today, the large financials in the Dow Jones Industrial Average took the hardest hit. JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM ) and Bank of America swooned following fears that a trading loss by JP Morgan could amount to as much as $9 billion. But the stocks recovered partially after news broke that the loss would actually fall in between the extremes, at $4 billion to $6 billion. Overall, JP Morgan fell 2.45% on the day, while Bank of America sank .39%%. The S&P’s CitiGroup also stumbled, losing 2.62%.
Elsewhere in the S&P, Chipotle (NYSE: CMG ) continued a two-day slide today, with a 3.79% loss. Investors dumped the stock yesterday after an ITG Investment Research analyst reported that Chipotle may reveal significantly slower growth when it reports earnings on July 19. Given that analysts project revenue to increase 22%, this is just a small hiccup for the Denver-based company. Its P/E ratio of 51.6 is among the highest in its industry, so investors buying the pricey restaurant stock on expectations of growth, are understandably worried. But a 22% revenue increase and an 8% increase in same-store sales both remain impressive numbers.
Finally, Dell (Nasdaq: DELL ) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) led the hardware companies in a downward trend. Citing factors that include a slump in IT spending and uncertainty over China’s direction, JP Morgan’s Mark Moskowitz slashed 2012 estimates for both companies. Apple’s revenue estimate fell almost $2 billion to $163.79 billion, while Moskowitz put Dell $1.5 billion lower at $163.79 billion. Dell was hit harder, falling 3.08%, as Moskowitz believes PC-based companies will struggle even more down the road. Apple, which Moskowitz still advises buying, fell only .95%.
It was a crazy day overall for the markets. Investors fled after mixed news in the morning, then seemed to think that they overreacted, and brought the markets nearly even. It was another day of unpredictability that we’ll probably continue to witness in the foreseeable future.
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