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The DJIA dipped Monday due to concerns regarding the weekend's election in Greece but ended the choppy session with a modest gain. Greek voters elected its anti-austerity party into office, and new concerns have emerged about the country potentially departing the euro.
The S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX), the market's fear gauge, slipped 6.48% on the day.
Dow: 17,678.70, +6.10, +0.03%
S&P 500: 2,057.09, +5.27, +0.26%
Nasdaq: 4,771.76, +13.88, +0.29%
What Moved the Markets Today: On Sunday, the anti-austerity Syriza party in Greece won 149 out of a 300 possible seats in Parliament. But it was hardly a surprise to investors, as the election results were largely priced in ahead of time. With the euro continuing to slide in the face of a massive bond-purchasing program from the European Central Bank, the economic bloc is expected to see a boost in manufacturing and exports thanks to a weakening currency.
[Extra: With New York bracing for a potentially historic snowstorm Tuesday, many wonder: Does the NYSE close for snow? Here's the answer…]
Here's a breakdown of today's other top stories and stock performances:
- Merger Mania: Shares of MeadWestvaco Corp. (NYSE: MWV) jumped nearly 20% today on news the company will merge with RockTenn Co. (NYSE: RKT). The packaging companies will combine in a $16 billion deal. Under the terms of agreement, MeadWestvaco will own 50.1% of the new company. RockTenn shareholders will own the balance. The firms expect to save $300 million in combined costs over the next three years.
- After the Bell: Microsoft earningsfor Q2 are expected after the market close. Investors will be looking to see if Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) can maintain the momentum from its Q1 earnings. In its previous earnings, the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant beat estimates on both the top and bottom lines. According to Yahoo! Finance, analysts are looking for earnings per share of $0.71, down from $0.78 a year ago. Get Money Morning's full breakdown on profit expectations for Microsoft stock here.
- Paying Up: Shares of Ocwen Financial Corp. (NYSE: OCN) surged more than 12% on news the company has paid a $2.5 million settlement to the California Department of Business Oversight. The state regulator had threatened to suspend the company's operating license in California last month.
- Russian Worries: The United States and European nations have proposed another round of sanctions against Russia after pro-Russian separatists allegedly killed 30 citizens by rocket attack Saturday in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol. The news comes on the same day that Standard & Poor's announced it has downgraded Russia's bonds to a notch below investment grade.
- An Apple a Day: Shares of Apple stock were flat this afternoon, a day ahead of the company's earnings report. Although Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) could report a record-breaking quarter tomorrow, the firm is expected to book some foreign exchange losses as global currencies continue to retreat against the greenback.
Now our experts share some of the most important investment moves to make based on today's market trading – for Money Morning Members only:
- How to Profit from the Five Scariest Stocks on Wall Street Right Now: Shorting stocks isn't for everybody – it takes a lot of guts and more than a little conviction to do it profitably. Not to mention a whole lot of discipline. But done right, it can really boost your profits. Here's how to profit from the five scariest stocks on Wall Street… without owning them…
- 60 Biotech Companies to Go Public Before April 1: Biotechnology is tech's fastest-growing sector. More than 100 biotech companies will go public in 2015. One reason is the sheer number of new "blockbuster" drugs expected to reach market. By this time next year, the FDA is expected to approve as many as 11 new treatments. Here's how you can profit from the best of them…
- The Renewable Energy Market Gives Us a License to "Grow" Money: A new energy balance is taking hold around the world, and it will ultimately have less and less to do with crude oil. As Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors recently discussed, this new world will include a massive move into renewables like wind and solar power. But this new era will be driven by a major move into biofuels as well. In fact, the projected future size of this market is nothing short of eye-opening. Here's how you can profit from this trend…