Stocks Close Mixed As Apple Hurts Nasdaq

By Vincent Mao, Investor’s Business Daily

Stocks closed mixed Wednesday after rebounding from early weakness. Wednesday’s trading was volatile, despite better-than-expected factory orders and services data.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.6%, with 22 of the 30 components ending higher. The S&P 500 rose 0.2%. But the Nasdaq dropped 0.8% and closed below its 200-day line. Apple’s (AAPL) 6% slide weighed on the tech-heavy index. Apple slumped on an IDC report that projected lower tablet market share this year.

Volume rose sharply on the NYSE due to Freeport-McMoRan’s (FCX) of Plains Exploration & Production (PXP) and McMoRan Exploration (MMR). Nasdaq trade edged up, according to preliminary data.

Leaders up in volume were few.

Ashland (ASH) added 3% as it hit its best levels in more than two months. The stock forming in a flat base with a 78.37 buy point. Ashland recently found support at its 200-day line and regained its 50-day moving average in big volume. The company distributes specialty chemicals and technologies to the drug, energy, construction, automotive, food and beverage, and other industries.

FleetCor Technologies (FLT) rose nearly 2% as it rebounded from two days of losses. Volume jumped from the past two sessions and ended above average. The stock is well extended from a 41.40 buy point from its August breakout.

Housings stocks, which have been strong recently, fell hard Wednesday.

M/I Homes (MHO) dived 8% in heavy trading and sliced its 50-day line. It has now erased gains from the past two weeks. Pulte Homes (PHM) dropped 5%, while Toll Bros. (TOL) and MDC Holdings (MDC) lost 4% each.

Qihoo 360 Technology (QIHU) erased gains and tumbled 7% in more-than-twice its average trade. It closed slightly below a 24.40 buy point from a cup-with-handle base. Qihoo was up as much as 15% from 24.40.

DSW (DSW) fell 4% and wiped out all of Tuesday’s work. The drop also left the stock 3% below a 69.25 buy point cleared Nov. 20. On Tuesday, DSW hit an all-time high after William Blair started coverage with an outperform rating and private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners disclosed a larger stake in the retailer.

Weekly jobless claims will be out Thursday, as well as a report on layoffs from outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas.

Yoga apparel firm Lululemon Athletica (LULU) and gun maker Smith & Wesson (SWHC) will report earnings Thursday.

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