Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
The broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) received a double dose of good news today from both the Federal Reserve and U.S. economic data, but profit takers proved to be too much weight for the overall market to head higher.
A recent survey conducted by the Federal Reserve of bank senior loan officers showed that there's little impetus at the moment for the U.S. central bank to pare back its monthly bond-buying program known as QE3. Interest rates soared more than 125 basis points in a matter of weeks beginning in May on the prospect that the Fed may wind down its free money program, which has artificially been keeping long-term lending rates down and boosted the drive for consumers to buy homes. With QE3 still on the table, investors can, for at least another few months, rest easy.
The ISM services index also was a nice surprise, coming in at 56 in July compared to estimates that had called for a figure in the low 53s. This was the fastest rate of expansion for the service sector in five months and speaks to the strength we saw in the jobs report last week.
Despite this news, the S&P 500 trickled lower by 2.53 points (-0.15%) to close at 1,707.14, just a fraction below its all-time closing high.
Leading the charge higher was memory chip maker Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU), which continued its ascent today, up 5%, despite no company-specific news. The reasoning behind the move could have to do with its upcoming conference with analysts on Friday to discuss its recent purchase of Elpida Memory, where it'll likely provide an update on memory prices as well as its financial outlook. Recently, everything has been going Micron's way in terms of better memory prices and lower operating costs. Historically, though, I know this pattern to be short-lived and we could be very near a top in this highly cyclical tech stock.
Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) also managed to prove that its chicken is really kickin'! Tyson shares gained 4.1% on the day after it reported strong third-quarter results that saw its sales hit a record of $8.7 billion, with profits rising 35% to $0.69 per share. The big reason behind the surge was record chicken profits as well as a rebound in its beef segment. For the quarter, chicken and beef prices soared 6.7% and 7.1%, respectively. As long as it can command pricing power like this, Tyson Foods could have room to run higher.
Finally, online travel service company Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) shook off its recent weakness and advanced 3.2%. Expedia shares bombed last month after reporting a 28% decline in year-over-year profits as selling and marketing expenses rose by 33%. Expedia had been successfully pushing overseas like its main rival Priceline.com (NASDAQ:BKNG). However, the cost of competing for deals is finally starting to weigh down the company. With a vast majority of Priceline's revenue coming from overseas, it still remains the prime play in online bookings while Expedia will need to show a paring back in its expenses if it hopes to regain investors' trust.