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Stocks End Lower, Led by Banks; Apple Gains
CNBC.com | March 27, 2012 | 04:21 PM EDT

Stocks dipped into negative territory in the final hour of trading after trading flat for most of the session Tuesday as investors took a breather following a strong market rally fueled by comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Still, stocks are on track to post their best quarter since 1998.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 43.90 points, or 0.33 percent, to end at 13,197.73, dragged by BofA. The blue-chip index is still on track to log its sixth-consecutive month of gains.

The S&P 500 erased 3.99 points, or 0.28 percent, to finish at 1,412.52. The Nasdaq slipped 2.22 points, or 0.07 percent, to close at 3,120.35.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, jumped above 15.

Among the key S&P sectors, utilities edged higher, while financials declined.

Apple hit an all-time high after Thinkequity boosted its price target on the iPad maker to $700 from $600. (Read More: Apple's Gains Make Some Mutual Funds More Risky) Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook will be talking to government officials in Chinato clear up a number of problems ranging from its iPad trademark to local labor.

“The smart money will begin unwinding starting from the second week of April as Alcoa kicks off the earning season," Todd Schoenberger, managing director of LandColt Trading.

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