After Market: Volatility Rules Wall Street as Indexes Drop Again

Stocks bounced in and out of the plus column Monday, as the heavy selling from last week subsided. Wall Street didn't see the big, momentum-selling of previous sessions, but trading remained volatile, and investors are wary of another big downturn. No one's sure whether the wave of selling is over, or just taking a break.

The VIX, which measure volatility, rose to its highest level in more than three months.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) gave up its modest gains in the final few minutes, losing another 41 points, and extending its losing streak to five days, and more than 600 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) fell 8, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) lost 44 points.

Among the blue chips, Caterpillar (CAT) rose 6 percent after posting better than expected results and forecasting that sales this year will stabilize after declining in 2013. It also revealed plans to buy back up to $10 billion of company stock.

Merck (MRK) gained 1 percent, moving to a 52-week high. JPMorgan raised its rating by two notches.

United Technologies (UTX) gained 2 percent. A defense industry newsletter said the company is considering the sale or spinoff its Sikorsky helicopter unit.

But some financials remain weak. Visa (V) and Goldman Sachs (GS) both lost 2 percent.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Some of the big name Nasdaq stocks fell. Cisco (CSCO) lost 1 percent on a JPMorgan downgrade. The analyst there says the company has a big emerging markets exposure. Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) all down about 2 percent. But Apple (AAPL) gained nearly 1 percent ahead of its earnings report.

Homebuilders were weak following a Barclay's downgrade. KBHome (KBH) lost 3 percent.

Elsewhere, Charter Communications (CHTR) jumped 4 percent on word that Comcast (CMCSA) is unlikely to make a solo bid for Time Warner Cable (TWC). That reduces the chances that Charter will need to fight a bidding war in its own quest to acquire its larger rival. Comcast gained nearly 1 percent, Time Warner was little changed, and Cablevision gained 4 percent.

Xerox (XRX) lost 5.5 percent on a pair of brokerage downgrades.

And the biotech firm Geron (GERN) slid 15 percent as 20 patients withdrew from a key clinical drug study.

What to Watch Tuesday:

  • The Commerce Department releases durable goods for December at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

  • Standard & Poor's releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for November at 9 a.m.

  • The Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for January at 10 a.m.

  • Federal Reserve policymakers begin a two-day meeting to set interest rates.

These major companies are due to report quarterly financial results:

  • American Airlines Group (AAL)

  • Amgen (AMGN)

  • AT&T (T)

  • Comcast (CMCSA)

  • D.R. Horton (DHI)

  • DuPont (DD)

  • Ford Motor (F)

  • Pfizer (PFE)

  • T. Rowe Price (TROW)

  • Yahoo (YHOO)

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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