Market Wrap: Energy Stocks Lead Upward Movement

APTOPIX Winter Weather
Richard Drew/APA potentially historic blizzard that started Monday affected businesses in Wall Street, the Northeast and even beyond.

By Lucas Iberico Lozada

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks edged higher on Monday as investors brushed off fears a leftist victory in Greece would bring fresh crisis to the Eurozone and energy stocks advanced.

The leftist, anti-bailout Syriza party won decisively in Greek parliamentary elections on Sunday, after running a campaign promising to take on Greece's international lenders and bring about an end to austerity measures. While the United States has limited direct exposure to Greece's relatively small economy, extended volatility in the region could hurt multinational companies. The euro was near flat at $1.1264 after falling to a new 11-year low in Asian trade.

"There was a lot of trepidation in the market going into the Greek election ... but by this morning the Syriza win was priced into the market already," said Robert Francello, head of equity trading for Apex Capital in San Francisco.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 6.1 points, or 0.03 percent, to 17,678.7, the S&P 500 (^GPSC) gained 5.27 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,057.09 and the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) added 13.88 points, or 0.29 percent, to 4,771.76.

Key Sectors and Firms

Energy stocks led gains on major U.S. indices after Abdulla al-Badri, OPEC's secretary-general, told Reuters on Monday that oil prices may have reached a floor and could move higher very soon. Chevron (CVX) added 1.9 percent to $108.88 while Exxon Mobil (XOM) gained 1 percent to $91.76 as the biggest lifts to the S&P 500. The S&P energy index rose 1.4 percent.

In deal news, Rock-Tenn (RKT) and MeadWestvaco (MWV) said they would combine to form a packaging company worth $16 billion, with MeadWestvaco shareholders owning a majority stake. Rock-Tenn shares jumped 6.1 percent to $66.84 while MeadWestvaco surged 14 percent to $51.34 as the S&P 500's biggest percentage gainer.

D.R. Horton (DHI) climbed 4.9 percent to $24.25 after the homebuilder's revenue growth beat expectations, boosted by home deliveries. An index of homebuilder stocks rose 1.9 percent.

Ocwen Financial (OCN) jumped 8.8 percent to $6.91 after the company paid $2.5 million in penalties to the California Department of Business Oversight, which had threatened to suspend Ocwen's license to operate in the state. About 32 million Ocwen shares exchanged hands, making it one of the New York Stock Exchange's most active.

With 19 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported earnings, 71.6 percent have topped expectations, while 54.7 percent have beaten revenue forecasts, according to Thomson Reuters data. That compares with the long-term average of 63 percent for earnings and 61 percent for revenue.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,111 to 952, for a 2.22-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,785 issues rose and 987 fell for a 1.81-to-1 ratio favoring advancers. The benchmark S&P 500 was posting 38 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 80 new highs and 58 new lows.

What to Watch Tuesday:

  • Durable goods orders are released at 8:30 a.m.
  • New home sales are released at 10 a.m.

Avoid These 7 Restaurant Ripoffs
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Market Wrap: Energy Stocks Lead Upward Movement
Even with endless soda refills, you're paying $2 to $3 for tap water, carbon dioxide and flavoring that cost the restaurant pennies to spritz into a glass. A single tea bag might cost 10 cents, though the restaurant will charge you $3 to plop it into a mug of hot water. If you want value, ask for a cup of hot water and lemon, which is free at most restaurants.
No matter how you slice it, a wedge of iceberg with a dollop of Thousand Island dressing isn't worth the $7 a restaurant charges, considering you can buy a whole head of lettuce for less than $2. Even a serving of fancy spring greens costs only $1.50 from the market, compared to $8 eating out. Restaurants will throw on maybe $2 of grilled chicken or shrimp and bump the price to $10 to $12. Do you really need to eat salad out? Why not save the money, and put it toward a great soufflé you'd never bother to cook at home?
If you're going to order a sassy red to go with your entrée, spring for the bottle, which is a much better value than ordering wine by the glass. The $9 per glass the restaurant charges you for a run-of-the-mill vintage often pays for the entire bottle they buy wholesale. In fact, more expensive wines are often marked up one or two times, while less impressive vintages can be marked up three or four times. So, the $100 bottle could be a better value than the $36 bottle.
Throw a fryer into stock pot and cook up gallons of chicken soup that restaurants garnish with some noodles and carrots and charge you $6 bowl; add "Mom's" to the title, and restaurants will add another dollar to the cost, because it sounds warm and fuzzy. Bisques and creamed soups with lobster, clams or other pricey ingredients are better values. But remember, what you save in money you spend on calories.
Edamame, which has gone mainstream, is a starter that keeps your hands and mouth busy before the main course. The Japanese appetizer costs you $5 to $6 a portion, while the restaurant pays only about $2 per pound. And even though its name is exotic, its prep is simple, consisting only of steaming or blanching soybeans, then sprinkling on seasoning.
Pasta, pancakes and waffles are high markup foods for restaurants, which will spend less than 50 cents on the two cups of flour and a couple of eggs they fashion into linguini or flapjacks and charge you $8 to $15.
Any dish a waiter prepares with a flourish table-side is bound to cost you more, because now you're paying for the show, too. Omnipresent guacamole consists mostly of a mashed avocado, which costs restaurants 50 cents to $1. Add a handful of diced veggies, and a restaurant can charge $6.50 for the starter; but if the wait staff combines ingredients table-side with a traditional molcajete, the price doubles to $12. So unless your waiter recites Hamlet's soliloquy while he whips up the guac, skip the performance.

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