Stocks end mixed as rally fades

@CNNMoneyInvest March 14, 2012: 5:08 PM ET
U.S. stocks

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks ended mixed Wednesday, one day after a big advance, as declines in bank stocks vied with strength in the technology sector.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 16 points, or 0.1%, to end at 13,194. The S&P 500 (SPX) lost 2 point, or 0.1% to 1,394. The Nasdaq (COMP) edged up 1 point, or less than 0.1%, to 3,041.

Stocks surged late Tuesday as investors cheered news that most U.S. banks passed the Federal Reserve's latest round of stress tests. But the tone was more cautious Wednesday as investors punished banks that came up short in the test and rewarded those that passed.

"After the surprise good news from stress tests yesterday, it's not a surprise to see a bit of a pull back today," said Kate Warne, chief investment strategist with Edward Jones.

While the financial sector was weak, shares of big technology companies helped support the market.

Shares of Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500), for example, hit an all-time high Wednesday -- moving closer to $600. The tech darling was boosted by upbeat comments from Wall Street analysts.

Overall, analysts say stocks are poised to continue heading higher, as the U.S. economy strengthens and Europe makes progress on its debt problems.

Early Wednesday, European finance ministers formally approved a second package of bailout loans for Greece worth €39.4 billion.

Bull market has legs

"Everything is clicking right now," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG. "The path of least resistance is higher."

Stocks rallied Tuesday after the Fed issued a more upbeat assessment of the economy, and solid retail sales data offset worries about rising gas prices.

March Stock Mania - Cast your vote

Companies: The financial sector was in focus after the Fed said a majority of the nation's largest banks would be able to weather another deep recession. Four banks, though, have more work to do.

Citibank (C, Fortune 500) and Metlife (MET, Fortune 500) were among the banks that would likely need to raise more capital in the event of a severe financial shock or economic downturn, according to the Fed. Shares of both banks fell sharply.

JPMorgan (JPM, Fortune 500) shares gained after the bank announced plans Tuesday to hike its dividend and buy back stock.

Goldman exec calls firm 'toxic'

Shares of Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) were also under pressure Wednesday. A Goldman executive has resigned in a very public manner -- calling the firm "toxic" and disrespectful of its clients in a scathing op-ed piece published in Wednesday's New York Times.

Despite the weakness in bank stocks, Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) shares rose 3%. American Express (AXP, Fortune 500) was also strong.

In the tech sector, shares of semiconductor companies rose after LSI Corp. (LSI) reported strong quarterly results and issued an upbeat outlook for the current quarter.

Economy: The U.S. current account deficit for the fourth quarter widened to $124.1 billion, the Commerce Department said. The deficit was expected to stand at $113.8 billion, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com.

Trade tensions with China were in the spotlight Tuesday, as President Obama announced that the United States, Japan and Western European countries would file a trade complaint against China over export restrictions on rare earth minerals.

World markets: European stocks closed mixed. The DAX (DAX) in Germany added 1.2% and France's CAC 40 (CAC40) rose 0.4%, while Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) fell 0.2%.

Asian markets also ended mixed. Japan's Nikkei (N225) rose 1.5%, closing above 10,000 for the first time in seven months.

Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) declined 2.6% and the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong shed 0.2% after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said China will not ease its housing industry curbs.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar weakened against the British pound, but rose versus the euro and the Japanese yen.

Oil for April delivery slipped $1.28 to end at $105.43 a barrel.

Gold futures for April delivery fell $51.30 to settle at $1,642.90 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury dropped, pushing the yield up to 2.27% from 2.11% late Tuesday.  To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,001.22 -38.27 -0.22%
Nasdaq 4,538.55 6.45 0.14%
S&P 500 1,988.40 -3.97 -0.20%
Treasuries 2.40 -0.00 -0.17%
Data as of 4:29pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.13 -0.03 -0.19%
Apple Inc 101.32 0.74 0.74%
Salesforce.com Inc 59.80 4.09 7.34%
General Electric Co 26.15 -0.28 -1.06%
Cisco Systems Inc 24.65 -0.24 -0.96%
Data as of 4:02pm ET
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15 yr fixed3.24%3.18%
5/1 ARM3.41%3.53%
30 yr refi4.19%4.22%
15 yr refi3.18%3.12%
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