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Stock Market Today: Economy Flashes Good Signs, But Stocks Fizzle

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Kyle Woodley, Senior Investing Editor
·3 min read
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The stock market was turned back Tuesday despite a good amount of positive news and data dumps.

Home prices continued to rocket higher in November, improving 1.4% month-over-month, according to a 20-city composite index from S&P/CS CoreLogic, and 9.1% year-over-year.

"The strength in home prices in the S&P CoreLogic CS survey is similar to that reported by the FHFA for the same period, which showed home prices up 1.0% m/m and 11.0% y/y," says Blerina Uruçi, U.S. economist, director at Barclays. "Both surveys outperformed consensus expectations for November and have been on a very steady upward trajectory since the end of the lockdown last year.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index rebounded in January, to 89.3 from a five-month low of 87.1 in December.

It was a busy day for corporate earnings, too. Dow Jones Industrial Average components Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, +2.7%) and 3M (MMM, +3.3%) both got a lift from better-than-expected Q4 results. Verizon (VZ, -3.2%) beat estimates too, but its stock slipped on disappointing subscriber additions, while American Express's (AXP, -4.1%) characterization of 2021 as a "transition year" spooked investors.

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The Dow finished with a slight 0.1% decline to 30,937. The Nasdaq Composite (-0.1% to 13,626) had its five-session win streak snapped, and the S&P 500 (-0.2% to 3,849) also slipped from record highs.

Other action in the stock market today.

  • The Russell 2000 declined by 0.6% to 2,149.

  • Gold futures were down again, off 0.2% to 1,850.90 per ounce.

  • U.S. crude oil futures settled similarly lower, losing 0.2% to $52.66 per barrel.

  • Bitcoin prices, at $33,430 on Monday, continued their decline with a 4.3% loss to $31,981. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

Stock chart for 012621
Stock chart for 012621

WallStreetBets Is At It Again

The latest craze to hit Wall Street also continued with vigor Tuesday. That is, a group of traders from the "WallStreetBets" community on the Reddit app kept going after heavily shorted stocks in an attempt to trigger short squeezes that pop those shares higher.

It's a phenomenon that has captured the attention of not just traders, but market observers and even legal minds, and has even forced a well-known short-selling hedge fund to seek out financial help.

The community was met with varying levels of success today. Their prime target, GameStop (GME), exploded for another 92.7%. BlackBerry (BB) enjoyed a more modest 4.9% gain, while Nokia (NOK, -2.5%) finished in the red.

It's a fascinating trend, albeit one that's only suitable for those with extreme risk tolerance and the time to remain glued to their accounts all day. Most investors are better off in traditional growth plays, whether you're talking about larger growth stocks or small-cap dynamos.

If you are curious about what younger investors are looking at, however, one way is to look at the most widely owned stocks on the Robinhood app -- a no-fee trading pioneer that's popular among millennials. You'll see a perhaps surprising number of "mainstream" stocks among them, and more encouraging still: Wall Street's pros seem to give most their thumbs-up, too.

Kyle Woodley was long AXP, BB, JNJ and NOK as of this writing.