Stock Market Today: S&P 500 Reaches Record Before May Sell Off Hits

The stock market today (Tuesday) paused after kicking off the week with strong, across-the-board gains that took the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to an all-time closing high.

The S&P rose 11.37 points Monday, or 0.7%, to close at 1,593.61, a hair above the index's April 11 record of 1,593.37. The Nasdaq tacked on 27.76 points, or 0.8%, to 3307.02, its highest close since 2000. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 106.20 points, or 0.7%, to 14818.75, inching closer to the anticipated 15,000 milestone.

Shortly before noon Tuesday, stocks took a breather. The Dow dipped 32.62 points, or 0.22%, at 14,786.13. The S&P slipped 1.95, or 0.12%, at 1,591.66. The Nasdaq notched a gain of 5.2%, or 0.16%, at 3,312.

As markets march into May, trading is expected to slow. The old "sell in May and go away" adage has many preaching caution. Bespoke Investments reports two of the ten worst months of May in S&P's history have occurred during the current bull market (2010 and 2012).

Stock Market Today: Tuesday's Movers

  • Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) shares fell 2.63% after reporting Q1 profit of $0.54 per share, a penny shy of estimates. Revenue of $13.5 billion missed expectations of $14 billion. The drug maker cut its full-year forecast to $2.14-$2.24 a share on sales of $55.3 billion-$57.3 billion, below analysts' forecasts of $2.28 on $57.25 billion.  Pfizer cited shifts in currency, particularly a weaker Japanese yen, for the lowered forward guidance.
  • Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET) jumped 2.33% after beating earnings estimates by 11 cents. Q1 EPS came in at $1.50. While revenue narrowly missed, the insurance company raised its 2013 forecast thanks to solid membership growth in its Medicare business.
  • Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) soared almost 10% after the struggling retailer announced it's exiting Europe to focus on U.S. stores. It will sell its European stake to Carphone Warehouse.
  • Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) shares advanced 1.52% after posting Q1 profits of $1.27 a share, 21 cents ahead of estimates and in-line revenue. The nutrition company gave a healthy outlook for the remainder of 2013. HLF remains at the center of a feud between activist investor Carl Icahn, who has taken a 15% stake, and hedge fund manager Bill Ackman who is short millions of shares claiming HLF is a "pyramid scheme."
  • Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) slipped 0.56% after Softbank founder Masayoshi Son said the bank is not likely to sweeten its $20.1 billion bid for 70% of Sprint. Meanwhile, Dish Network Corp. (NYSE: DISH) is offering $25.5 billion for all of Sprint.
  • Apple Inc. (NYSE: AAPL) gained 1.44% after The Wall Street Journal reported the iPhone maker is expected to sell billion of dollars in new debt late Tuesday. The exact size of the deal isn't known, but it has been speculated Apple will offer more than $10 billion of bonds.
  • NYSE Euronext (NYSE: NYX) traded up 0.52% despite reporting earnings of $0.52 per share in Q1, four cents below estimates. Investors remain focused on the pending $8 billion deal with IntercontinentalExchange Inc (NYSE: ICE) which comes up for a shareholder vote in June. The combo is expected to lead to robust future growth.
  • Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE: PBI) plunged 16.98% after reporting Q1 profit of $0.42 per share, two cents short of forecasts. The mail and document services provider also slashed its dividend to 18.75 cents per share from 37.5 cents. Weaker demand for mail weighed on results.
  • Valero Energy Corp (NYSE: VLO) ticked up 0.44% after posting Q1 EPS of $1.18, 20 cents ahead of forecasts. Revenue of $33.47 billion also handily beats the consensus estimate of $30.41 billion. Wednesday, the company will spin-off its retail business CST Brands Inc. (NYSE: CST*). Shareholders will receive one share of CST for every nine Valero shares held as of April 19.

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