Concerns about the political uncertainty in Ukraine caused some volatility in the markets Friday afternoon, with the major indexes making several U-turns ahead of the weekend.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI), which had been up by as much as 125 points, briefly dropped into loss territory before rebounding to end 49 points higher. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) edged up 5 points, adding to Thursday's record high, but the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) lost 10 points.
February was a great month for investors. All three major averages jumped by about 4 percent.
UnitedHealth Group (UNH) led the blue chips, gaining 1½ percent. Other health providers – Aetna (AET), Wellpoint (WLP), Cigna (CI) and Humana (HUM) -- all gained between 1½ and 2 percent.
And retail stocks remained active. Target (TGT) added another 3 percent. Best Buy rose 4 percent, and Fred's (FRED), a regional department store chain, jumped 10 percent.
But Pier 1 (PIR) fell 5½ percent after lowering its earnings outlook for a second time. That led to a series of brokerage downgrades.
Decker Outdoor (DECK) tumbled 12 percent. The maker of footwear brands such as Ugg and Teva issued a weak outlook. And apparel maker Lululemon (LULU) fell 5-percent on negative comments from Credit Suisse.
It seems as though there are always some big movers in the drug and biotech sectors – and that was certainly the case today.
GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH) rose 2 percent after the FDA granted orphan status to its drug to treat a rare form of childhood epilepsy.
But most of the action was on the downside.
Endologix (ELGX) slid 24 percent after forecasting lower revenue growth.
Questcor (QCOR) fell 10 percent. It's lost big for three straight days amid allegations of questionable business practices.
Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) fell 9 percent. It's also had a wild week following its earnings and a management shake-up.
Elsewhere, United Continental (UAL) fell more than 3 percent. It reported that a high level of weather related cancellations this quarter will hurt revenue.
And Monster Beverage (MNST) rose 4 percent. It reports strong revenue growth despite health concerns about its high-energy drinks.
What to Watch Monday:
Automakers release vehicle sales for February.
The Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for January at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
At 10 a.m., the Institute for Supply Management releases its manufacturing index for February, and the Commerce Department releases construction spending for January.
The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on proposed changes to generic drug labeling.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.
8 Foolproof Ways to Grow Your Savings
After Market: Stocks End Month Higher Despite Skittishness over Ukraine
This is my personal favorite! Think of yourself as a regular monthly bill you have to pay. All you have to do is arrange to have a set amount of money directly deposited from your paycheck into a savings account each month.
I recommend using a separate savings account because if you have access to your funds in your checking account, you're more likely to spend them. Again, it might hurt a bit at first to take home a little less every month, but trust me, after a while you won't even notice it's gone. Here's a moment when the "set it and forget it" strategy works wonders.
It feels great to be rewarded for your hard work. And it feels even better to spend that hard-earned bonus on something you’ll enjoy, like a trip to France or an iPad. At the same time, the pleasure of a vacation or new gadget is short-lived compared to financial security.
So make a pact with yourself to put every bonus you get from here on out to good use. If you direct 90 percent of your bonuses straight into your savings account as a rule, you’ll still have 10 percent to treat yourself with (plus the comfort of knowing that you're building a well-earned safety net). I live by this rule.
OK, OK, this seems like an obvious one -- and easier said than done. Actually, most people spend money on more unnecessary items than they think. So take time to look at where your money is going in detail and begin to cut back. Saving $10 here and there could help you put a lot away in the long run.
Many banks offer seasonal accounts meant to save for holidays like Christmas. These accounts give you reduced access to your accounts, charging a hefty penalty each time you withdraw more than permitted. Since emergencies don't occur often, a seasonal account could make sure you're touching it only when needed (just make sure you're not tempted to blow it all on Christmas gifts).
I love this one. Chalk it up to my massive craving for organization, but I'm all about getting rid of things I no longer use. Rather than throwing these unused goods away, start selling them, and put that money into your emergency fund. All you need to do is post them to a site like eBay or Craigslist or Amazon and you can get rid of items from the comfort of your home. You can also take your clothes to a consignment shop to have them sold for you.
Instead of saving your pennies, put aside any $5 bills that come your way. Never spend a $5 bill again, and you'll be surprised by how quickly this silly trick will help you come up with a few hundred dollars to add to an emergency fund.
You could pick up odd jobs via websites like TaskRabbit.com, DoMyStuff.com, Elance.com, FreelanceSwitch.com or Sitters.com.
If you get a cash-back reward for any spending on your credit card, just make it a rule that those dollars will be dedicated to your freedom fund. It may only add up to $100 extra each year, depending on your spending, but every little bit counts.