Markets opened deep in the red with the Dow down by as much as 120 points. But stocks slowly ground higher.
First the scoreboard:
Dow: 14,526, -33.5 pts, -0.2 percent
S&P 500: 1,562, -0.9 pts, -0.0 percent
NASDAQ: 3,256, +4.0 pts, +0.1 percent
And now the top stories:
- In case you haven't been following, the S&P 500 is just a handful of points away from its all-time high of 1,565.
- The U.S. markets actually began the day deep in the red. Much of the bad news was coming out of Europe where Italy is in disarray and Cyprus makes plans to reopen its banks tomorrow.
- For the next seven days, Cypriot bank account holders will not be able to cash any checks, however they will be welcome to make deposits. Also, all card transactions will be capped at 5,000 euros. These capital controls are intended to prevent a run on the banks, which would be devastating for the very financial system that Europe is trying to preserve.
- "The Troika have managed to exponentially increase concerns on how safe retail deposits are in the eurozone," wrote Societe Generale strategist Albert Edwards. "It matters not that the final Cypriot bailout plan did not touch smaller savers unlike the original proposal of a 6¾% tax (haircut) for ALL deposits under 100,000 in ALL banks (including foreign bank subsidiaries). The fact that this plan was originally sanctioned, despite deposit insurance, will have shaken small saver confidence to the bone. It certainly has shaken my confidence."
- In the U.S., pending home sales fell by 0.4 percent in February, which was a bit worse than the 0.3 percent expected by economists.
- Still, the overall trend in the U.S. housing market continues to be as strong as ever. Anecdotal evidence suggests some local markets may be getting a bit too hot for comfort. "People are fighting other people," said Jeff Gundlach of the Southern California housing market. "It's almost the same type of environment I remember from the late 1980s."
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