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Family members are making their way back home for the holidays. Retailers are stocking their shelves for insane Black Friday deals that actually have nothing to do with Friday. And stocks are eerily flat.
This, folks, is the calm before the storm.
With just one day of trading between now and Thanksgiving, the stock market had little appetite for data today, just as it showed restraint from any exaggerated moves on Monday. Numbers from the housing market Tuesday supported the case of the Wall Street bulls, who point to real estate as an indicator of the U.S. recovery. While today showed that building permits jumped in October as developers continue to build, build, build, yesterday's data bleakly announced a fifth straight month of falling pending home sales. With conflicting reports and unruly uncles to prepare for, the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) eked out a 0.3-point gain today as Wall Street admitted there wasn't much to be excited about.
Investors can be excited that the broader stock market didn't fare as poorly as Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM ) stock did today, as shares erased 3.2% of their value. Newmont Mining's destiny is entirely determined by the market for gold and copper, and with gold making headlines in recent days for approaching its lows for the year, the stock itself has been in helpless freefall. Another important variable that can influence mining stocks is acquisition activity, which could provide some upside to Newmont in the short-term. According to an after-hours report from Reuters this evening, Newmont may be joining forces with other heavyweights to bid on Peru's coveted Las Bambas copper mine. There's quite a bit of competition and Newmont wouldn't be the full owner, so take that will a grain of salt, if you will.
Robotic surgery innovator Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG ) saw shares drop 2.6% Tuesday, a slump that came after CRT Capital analysts gave the stock a "sell" rating. While CRT Capital is no Goldman Sachs, it's no secret that Intuitive Surgical is hitting a painful growth spurt. Sales and earnings actually fell in the most recent quarter, and media scrutiny for an increasing number of issues with automated procedures may partly be to blame. But you can't blame investors for safety concerns, especially in a business essentially begging for lawsuits. I'd like to hear more feedback from the medical community and see some sales gains before I put my money behind the company.
Last but not least, Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB ) stock lost 2.3% Tuesday, ending as one of the S&P's weakest performers. Luckily for investors, there's nothing worrisome behind today's slip, which came on the heels a 13% surge on Friday and a 3% run-up yesterday. So consider Tuesday's fall as it deserves to be seen: in context, as a trifling sell-off by investors taking chips off the table. Frankly, if I owned this stock I'd still be basking in the news that sent it skyrocketing. European regulators just gave Biogen a 10-year monopoly on its oral multiple sclerosis treatment Tecfidera, a decision that should line the pockets of Biogen investors for years to come.
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