Stocks close flat; Tesla takes first place

Hot Stock Minute

Stocks traded flat much of the day after mixed news on the economy. The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq all closed down ever so slightly, less than two tenths of a percent. Home prices posted their biggest annual gains since 2005, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. But the more recent trend shows a slowing. Prices dipped for the second consecutive month in December. Consumer Confidence also declined, according to the Conference Board, but that report contained a mix of results as well. The present situation index, which measures current economic conditions, rose to 81.7 in the most recent report. That is the highest reading in six years. However, when asked about expectations for economic conditions over the next six months, consumers were not as optimistic, with that index dropping sharply to 75.7 from a revised 80.8 in January.

Continuing the trend, retailers reported mixed results as well. Home Depot (HD) shares finished the day up more than 4% after the company said same-store sales increased 4.4% overall in the fourth quarter, but the company warned full-year same store sales will come in below analysts' estimates. The home improvement giant posted earnings per share that beat estimates by $0.02 a share. Revenue came in just below estimates.

Macy's (M) shares closed up 6% after the company said profits rose 11% in the fourth quarter on strong holiday sales. The department store operator said the frigid winter weather hurt sales in January and February.

And Tesla (TSLA) continues to soar. Shares ended the day up another 14% after Consumer Reports rated the company's Model S sedan as the best overall vehicle in its annual top ten list. Also boosting the share price, Morgan Stanley raised its target price on Tesla to $320 a share from $153 a share based on the company's prospects outside the electric car space in areas like batteries.

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