Market Wrap: Nasdaq Nears 5,000; S&P, Dow Fall With Energy

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Richard Drew/AP
By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK -- The Nasdaq resumed its recent advance Thursday after deal news in the technology sector, while the Dow and S&P 500 slipped as energy shares sank with oil prices.

The day's move put the Nasdaq within just 12 points of the 5,000 mark, which it last hit in March 2000 along with its all-time high of 5,132.52 at the height of the dot-com frenzy. The Dow broke a two-day streak of record closing highs.

Among the top boosts for the Nasdaq and S&P 500 were shares of Avago Technologies (AVGO), which jumped 14.7 percent to $129.25. The company reached a deal to acquire Emulex (ELX) for $8 a share. Emulex shares surged 24.7 percent to $7.93.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-After we had a difficult January and early part of February, earnings reinvigorated the rally and pushed [the market] higher.%Also among the day's top performers, (CRM) shares climbed 11.7 percent to $70.24. The cloud software company reported quarterly earnings and raised its full-year revenue forecast.

After a sluggish start to the year, stocks have rebounded sharply in February. Both the Dow and S&P 500 are on track for their best monthly performance since October 2011, while the Nasdaq is on pace for its best month since January 2012.

"After we had a difficult January and early part of February, earnings reinvigorated the rally and pushed it higher," said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Bolton Global Asset Management in Boston. "Consumer and health care really surprised investors."

Energy shares led declines in the S&P 500 and Dow, with the S&P 500 energy index dropping 1.8 percent as U.S. crude oil futures fell 5.5 percent to settle at $48.17, pressured by rising inventories in the United States.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 10.15 points, or 0.06 percent, to 18,214.42, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GSPC) lost 3.12 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,110.74 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 20.75 points, or 0.42 percent, to 4,987.89.

Broken Chain of Wins

The Nasdaq on Wednesday had broken a 10-day streak of gains.

S&P 500 earnings rose 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter, Thomson Reuters (TRI) data showed, up from a Jan. 1 estimate for growth of just 4.2 percent.

Apple (AAPL) shares gained 1.3 percent to $130.41. Apple sent out invitations for a March 9 event, about one month before the much-anticipated launch of the new Apple Watch.

Economic data was mixed. January U.S. consumer prices had the biggest drop since 2008 as gasoline prices tumbled, while weekly jobless claims climbed last week and durable goods orders rose last month. The deflation data could provide a cautious Federal Reserve the leeway to keep interest rates low for longer.

About 6.4 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.8 billion average for the month to date, according to BATS Global Markets.

NYSE decliners outnumbered advancers 1,646 to 1,387, for a 1.19-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,522 issues rose and 1,192 fell, a 1.28-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 41 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 125 new highs and 20 new lows.

What to watch Friday:
  • The Commerce Department releases fourth-quarter gross domestic product at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales index for January at 10 a.m.
12 Staples All Frugal Cooks Should Have in Their Pantry
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Market Wrap: Nasdaq Nears 5,000; S&P, Dow Fall With Energy
One of the most versatile staples around, you can throw pretty much anything into pasta to make it a meal or a side dish. Get noodles in different shapes and styles to mix things up: spaghetti, elbows, penne, fettuccini, egg noodles, etc., and experiment with different sauces to increase the variety factor.

Beans are a wonderful, inexpensive source of protein that can be used to substitute for meat in many recipes (whether you're vegetarian or just looking to shave a few bucks off your grocery bill). They're known as a "superfood," boasting all sorts of health benefits and packed with fiber that keeps you feeling full longer. Stock up on black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, great northern beans and cannelloni beans, all of which can be used in a wide variety of dishes.

Canned beans are more convenient, but dried beans are cheaper. Soak overnight in water, then bring to a boil on the stove and let simmer for an hour. Combine beans with rice or quinoa for a filling lunch, or eat it in tortilla wraps with salsa, lettuce and cheese for an affordable, healthy and filling meal.

Another good meat substitute, lentils are packed with fiber, protein, Vitamin B and iron, and they can be used in everything from soups and stews to salads and curries.  French, Indian and other varieties can be thrown into a crock-pot with veggies, beans and broth to slowly cook while you're at work.
A great source of protein that can be cooked many different ways, eggs can work for any time of day. Omelets are an easy way to turn odds and ends like leftover cheese and veggies into delicious, easy meals.
Traditional cow milk is ideal for both baking and cooking sides like mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. Almond milk, soy milk and coconut milk can be used in certain recipes and are great alternatives for vegans or people with lactose intolerance. And let's not forget that childhood staple: cereal and milk (of any variety) creates a filling breakfast, especially if it's combined with eggs or other protein, and perhaps a piece of fresh fruit.
White and brown rice are the most obvious choices, but you can also stock up on protein-rich quinoa (my personal favorite, and what's in the photo) and barley for a change of pace. Just like pasta, grains can be mixed with all sorts of things to create a wide variety of cheap, healthy and well-rounded recipes.
Good old-fashioned oats can be used to make everything from oatmeal to bread to granola. They've been shown to lower cholesterol, boost heart health and have even been dubbed another one of those "superfoods." For a healthy snack, try baking no-added-sugar oatmeal and raisin cookies.
Not just for breakfast and snacks, bulk cereal can also be crushed and used as coating for chicken, fish or shrimp; tossed into meatloaf mix for added body; and used to create a crunchy layer on casseroles. Look for high-fiber, low-sugar varieties.
You can buy these ready-made or save some cash by making them yourself the next time you're cooking meat. They're great for adding extra depth and taste to a dish and can be used for everything from braising vegetables to soups and stews. Those who love slow cookers should definitely have some on hand.
Perfect for making soups, stews and sauces, canned tomatoes can also be used to add extra flavoring to omelets and other dishes. Fresh tomatoes are relatively affordable when they're in season, but canned tomatoes provides a frugal alternative during the frozen winter months.
Cheap and full of protein, tuna can be turned into sandwiches, salads, casseroles and more. It's another staple that can be mixed with lots of other things on this list in a wide variety of combinations.
Bring out the flavor in even the simplest of dishes with the right spices and seasonings. There's no limit to the cuisines you can make with the help of basics like garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, cloves, curry powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, paprika, rosemary and thyme.
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