Stock markets halted their bleeding Tuesday after three days of heavy selling. The Nasdaq, which had tumbled 4.5 percent through the past three sessions, recovered a bit as many of the Internet and social media stocks that had led the decline turned around. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) edged up by 10 points, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained 33 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) added 7 points.
A number of analysts don't think the wave of selling is over yet, calling Tuesday's rebound a "dead cat bounce." But for one day at least, many of the stocks that had been hardest hit recovered some lost ground.
Google (GOOG), Amazon.com (AMZN) and Netflix (NFLX) all rose by nearly 3 percent, and Facebook (FB) gained 2 percent. TripAdvisor (TRIP) rose 4 percent and Pandora Media (P) gained 5 percent. Even the Chinese Internet giant Baidu (BIDU) gained 5 percent. But over the past month, it's still down 16 percent.
Some of the "old" tech stalwarts –- companies that have been around for a while and actually turn real profits –- continued to move higher.
Intel (INTC) rose 1.5 percent, while Adobe (ADBE) and Micron (MU) both rose about 2 percent. And Nokia (NOK) jumped 5 percent after Chinese officials approved the planned sale of its handset division to Microsoft (MSFT). Nokia shares have more than doubled in price over the past year.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%A group of energy and natural resource stocks posted strong gains. Cliffs Natural (CLF), Teck Resources (TCK) and Continental Resources (CLR) each gained more than 4 percent.
Other winners today: SeaWorld (SEAS) gained 5 percent as a California legislative committee delayed action on a bill to ban Orca killer whale shows in the state, in effect killing the measure for this year. And Nike (NKE) rose 3 percent as Stifel Nicolaus raised its rating to "buy" from "hold."
On the downside, biotech continue to struggle. Biogen (BIIB), Gilead (GILD) and Repligen (RGEN) all fell by about 3 percent.
Gigamon (GIMO) tumbled 34 percent after the networking data firm lowered its revenue outlook. And Nordic American Tankers (NAT) fell 10 percent after increasing the size of its share offering.
What to Watch Wednesday:
The Mortgage Bankers Association releases weekly mortgage applications at 7 a.m. Eastern time.
The Commerce Department releases wholesale trade inventories for February at 10 a.m.
The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its March policy-setting meeting at 2 p.m.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:
After Market: End of the Tech Selloff, or a Dead Cat Bounce?
The 1099 forms you received from brokerages and other financial institutions might not be the last ones they send. It's common for them to issue corrected versions a little later. Consider getting your tax return ready to go, then waiting until close to April 15 before submitting it. That way, you can incorporate any last-minute changes and avoid having to file an amended return.
Pay attention to when you sell any holding, because the capital gains tax rates differ for long-term and short-term holdings. Short-term capital gains are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate, which could top 30 percent. Long-term gains (those held for more than a year) get preferential rates, which are zero percent for those in low-income brackets and 15 percent for most of us.
If you own underwater stocks, consider selling them for a loss. You can use those losses to offset gains from other sales, reducing your taxes owed. You can always buy back the asset later, if you still believe in it -- just be sure to wait for 31 days to pass, to observe the "wash sale rule."
If you're planning to sell one or more holdings that will give you a really big gain, submit an amended W-4 form to increase your withholding, or send the IRS an estimated tax payment. Underpaying your taxes significantly during the year can lead to a penalty at tax time. You may be protected by a "safe harbor" provision, though, which can save you from having to jump through those hoops.
If you're planning to buy shares of a mutual fund, determine when it will distribute its dividends. Many funds do so near the end of the year, and when that happens, the fund's share price will drop by the amount of the distribution -- which is taxable to shareholders. It's better to just wait until after that payout to buy in.
Mutual funds with high turnover ratios (reflecting a lot of buying and selling in a fund) have expenses for these trades. It's worth favoring funds with low turnover ratios, especially index funds and index-tracking ETFs, which simply hold onto the mix of securities in a given index, without a lot of trading activity. (Index funds generally outperform their higher-turnover counterparts, too.)
Boost the power of your Individual Retirement Accounts by making your annual contributions early in the year, giving the funds more time to grow. Over decades, it can make a significant difference.