After Market: Stocks Rally, S&P 500 Closes In on Record High

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Just a few weeks ago investors were worried about a market correction. Now the S&P 500 is honing back in on its record high.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) jumped 92 points, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) gained 29 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 11 -- closing just 9 points shy of the all-time high set at the very end of last year.

Facebook (FB) gained more than 2 percent and its $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp, a popular messaging service, set a positive tone. Facebook has had a good track record on acquisitions, and if it's willing to spend that much, investors believe there's still value to be found in this market.

BlackBerry (BBRY) rose 3.5 percent. The value of its messaging service jumps because of the Facebook deal.

Verizon Communications (VZ) led the telecom sector, gaining 3.5 percent, while Vodafone (VOD) rose nearly 4 percent and Sprint (S) more than 1 percent.

A long list of blue chips added more than 1 percent, including Boeing (BA), Caterpillar (CAT), Exxon Mobile (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and Home Depot (HD).

But Walmart Stores (WMT) bucked the trend, falling nearly 2 percent. Earnings came in about as expected, but sales were weak and the company warned that "economic factors" would weigh on sales this year.
As many companies have done, Walmart blamed the weather for part of its problem.

Another big retail loser today was the specialty chain Conn's (CONN), down 43 percent. It also issued a weak outlook, prompting Oppenheimer (OPY) to downgrade the stock. Over the past three months, Conn's stock has lost nearly half of its value.

Elsewhere, Tesla Motors (TSLA) raced ahead by 8.5 percent. It raised its production and delivery targets, issued an upbeat outlook, and said sales in China are very strong.

Car-rental company Avis Budget Group (CAR) gained 9 percent on solid earnings.

PepsiCo (PEP) gained 1.5 percent as an activist investor renewed his push for the company to spin off its beverage operations.

Raptor Pharmaceutical (RPTP) jumped 14 percent after reporting positive clinical results for its treatment of Huntington's disease. But Onconova Therapeutics (ONTX) plunged 36 percent as a key late stage trial failed to meet its goal.

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

What to Watch Friday:
  • The National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales data for January at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial statements:

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7 Comments

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toosmart4u

Way to go President Obama cleaning up the mess of the bush jr. administration.

February 21 2014 at 5:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Adult diapers, briefs, toilet paper, and related product producers will see a bounce in stock price if Soros comes close to his prediction.

February 20 2014 at 8:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

Apparently the traders are more worried about China manufacturing strength and growth than their own workers here in America. When you won't invest in America you should be taxed into oblivion!

February 20 2014 at 8:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
jhrooney

George Soros is calling in all his markers for a drop in the market to protect his 1.3Billion short.

February 20 2014 at 7:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jhrooney's comment
Iselin007

If he is right he will not come up short then everyone else who was wrong will need a new pair of shorts.

February 20 2014 at 8:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
savannahswithgod

Yeh, oops I aint got no stock. Wait though people are making money off stock exchange so that means my stuff in general will be cheaper, Yeh?

February 20 2014 at 5:22 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to savannahswithgod's comment
hsenpfeffer

Wrong. That money comes from somewhere. All the scam artistes on the stock exchange getting money without working for it are getting it from someone who actually produces. They are worse than welfare cheats.

February 20 2014 at 6:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Iselin007

The stock market seems to go in the opposite direction of the middle class. Be nice if both could move in a positive direction at the same time.

February 20 2014 at 8:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply