Bulls and Bears Battle Over Market's Direction


Stocks have bounced back and forth between positive and negative territory in today's trading, and with a half-hour left in trading, it looks like we may end in negative territory again. At 3:20 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) was down 0.25%, and the S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) had fallen 0.35%.

A report by the U.S. Department of Commerce said that new-home sales rose to their highest pace since April 2010. In September the figure reached a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 389,000. Financial stocks bounced higher on the news. JPMorgan (NYS: JPM) has risen 0.58% today. Competitor Bank of America (NYS: BAC) followed suit for a short time this morning, but at midday the U.S. Department of Justice brought a $1 billion civil suit against the company over mortgage fraud on loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Banks have been preparing themselves for these kind of suits, so the reaction wasn't too harsh, but it's not good for Bank of America nonetheless.

Cisco Systems (NAS: CSCO) has been the Dow's biggest loser, falling 2.9% after competitor Juniper Networks (NYS: JNPR) reported disappointing guidance. The company was also blasted by HP (NYS: HPQ) CEO Meg Whitman, who said she would "rather have [her] hand than John's hand right now," referring to Cisco CEO John Chambers. The two CEOs go way back, and it appears the feud continues. I wouldn't say there's anything alarming going on at Cisco, so the sell-off is probably overdone.

Oil has also continued its nosedive today. The commodity is down 1% to $85.80 as I write and shows no sign of snapping out of its slump anytime soon.

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