Early Strength Encouraging

Stocks proved resilient again today as investors shrugged off steep losses early in the session to have the major indices close flat to up modestly, preserving the nice gain posted on the first day of 2012 trading. How long this pattern will hold remains to be seen but it is encouraging to see some early strength to the market. Europe still looms as an issue, but back home the data released today points to a slowly improving U.S. labor market, though economists caution the ADP report may be skewed by seasonal factors. The government releases its December unemployment report tomorrow morning.

The Recreational Product Stocks Index was the top performing tickerspy Index on the day, led by Adams Golf (Nasdaq: ADGF - News) with a 13% gain. The Italy Stocks and ADRs Index was the day's worst performing tickerspy Index, with Enel Societa Per Azioni (Pink Sheets: ENLAY) down -5%.

The Dow Jones Industrial averaged closed down -3 points to 12,415. The S&P 500 finished up 4 points to 1,281, while the Nasdaq composite added 22 to finish at 2,670. Gold gained $7.40 an ounce to $1,620.10, while crude oil eased by $1.41 per barrel to $101.81.

In economic news, weekly jobless claims fell by 15,000 to 372,000 last week. Economists were expecting a reading of 375,000 new claims. The ADP Employer Services survey indicated private employers added 325,000 new workers in December, well above the 180,000 economists were expecting.

In earnings news, shares of seeds and herbicide maker Monsanto (NYSE: MON - News) added 5.5% after the company said its fiscal first-quarter profit rose to $126 million, or 23 cents per share, from $9 million, or 2 cents per share, a year earlier. Sales increased 33% to $2.44 billion. Analysts were expecting a profit of 16 cents per share on revenue of $2.05 billion. Monsanto forecast a fiscal 2012 profit of $3.39-$3.44 a share. Analysts expected $3.47.

Wine and spirits maker Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ - News) reported a fiscal third-quarter profit of $104.8 million, or 52 cents per share, compared with $139.3 million, or 65 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue slid -27% to $700.7 million. On an adjusted basis, the company earned 50 cents. Analysts were expecting 53 cents. Shares of Constellation fell 3.5%.

Fertilizer producer Mosaic (NYSE: MOS - News) said its fiscal second-quarter profit fell to $623.6 million, or $1.40 per share, compared with $1.03 billion or $2.29 a share, a year earlier. Revenue climbed 13% to $3.01 billion. Analysts expected a profit of $1.28 a share on revenue of $3.2 billion. Shares of Mosaic rose 1.9%. Thirty-two pros held Mosaic in their portfolios at the end of Q3 and nearly 1,900 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.

Hard disk drive maker Seagate Technology (Nasdaq: STX - News) forecast better-than-expected second-quarter revenue and added it expects stronger shipments in the third quarter. The company expects fiscal second-quarter revenue of $3.1-$3.2 billion, above the $2.81 billion analysts were expecting. Seagate guided for fiscal third-quarter revenue of $4.2-$4.5 billion, well above the $3.7 billion analysts forecast. Shares of Seagate climbed 6.4%. Nineteen pros held Seagate in their portfolios at the end of Q3 and more than 450 tickerspy members own the stock in their portfolios.

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