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The S&P 500 gained 8 points today to close at a new record high. The cause? Positive macro-economic forces spreading across Europe.
The S&P energy sector gained roughly 1.5% on the day, boosted by higher crude oil prices.
Our Technical Trading Strategist D.R. Barton appeared on FOX Business' "Varney & Co." Thursday to discuss the "juggernaut" that is Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) stock. For money managers, he likened not having AAPL in one's portfolio to "financial suicide"…
Dow: 18,019.35, +46.97, +0.26%
S&P 500: 2,096.99, +8.51, +0.41%
Nasdaq: 4,893.84, +36.22, +0.75%
The S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX), the market's fear gauge, slipped 3.4% on the day.
What Moved the Markets Today: The markets were up today on growing optimism across the Atlantic. The Russia-Ukraine ceasefire, improved data on the German economy, and improving prospects for a Greek debt agreement pushed stocks higher. Shares of the National Bank of Greece (NYSE ADR: NBG) rose 12.6% on the day.
Economic data on the home front wasn't so rosy. Consumer confidence slipped this month for the first time in seven months. Gasoline prices are back on the rise and Americans remain mixed on future economic prospects.
Now, check out the other top market stories – plus get our new profit tip for investors:
- Oil Surge: The weekly Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) report on the U.S. oil rig count played a slight role in boosting oil prices today. This rotary rig-count total slipped by 98 to 1,358 for the week ending Feb 13. Brent surpassed $60, gaining 3.69% on the day. West Texas Intermediate prices gained 2.8% to hover near $53 per barrel.
- Earnings Blowout: Shares of Groupon Inc. (Nasdaq: GRPN) gained more than 7% on news the company beat quarterly profit expectations after the bell Thursday. Despite issuing a weak 2015 profit outlook, the stock surged after it reported Q4 earnings of $0.06 per share on revenue of $925.4 million. This bested analyst expectations of $0.02 per share on revenue of $856.5 million.
- Cost Cutting: Shares of American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) slid nearly 3% this afternoon on news that several brokerages have slashed their price target for the credit-processor's stock. Concerns rose after mega-retailer Costco Wholesale Corp. (Nasdaq: COST) announced it will no longer accept American Express cards in their U.S. locations.
- Merger Mania: Shares of Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd.(Nasdaq: SLXP) were up another 2.12% on news the company could be sold to Shire Plc. (Nasdaq ADR: SHPG). But by mid-afternoon, rumors emerged that Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) has also arranged financing for a possible acquisition. A deal isn't expected to be announced, but a bidding war for the drug manufacturer is possible. Yesterday SLXP jumped more than 4% on rumors the company is working with PE firm Centerview to explore possible sale options.
- An Apple a Day: Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) hit a new intraday record Friday as the tech giant continues to surge. This afternoon, the U.S. government announced it will begin accepting Apple Pay for transactions such as admission tickets to national parks and museums. The stock also received two big upgrades. UBS Group AG (USA) (NYSE: UBS) raised its price target for Apple stock to $150, while BMO Capital Markets raised its price target to $135. The company's market capitalization now sits at a staggering $740 billion. This huge jump has everyone asking: Should I buy Apple stock at these levels? Money Morning Capital Wave Strategist Shah Gilani appeared on FOX Business' "Varney & Co." earlier this week to answer that very question…
Money Morning Tip of the Day: Don't listen to bearish analysts about oil. Prices have already started to stabilize.
Today's tip comes from Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors:
Citigroup analyst Ed Morse released his most bearish oil price forecast yet on Monday, predicting prices will fall another 60% to $20 a barrel.
But what Morse and other analysts like him are getting wrong is oil has already begun to stabilize.
You see, the nearly 60% plunge in oil prices resulted in an abnormally oversold market, driven largely by the shorts. Without an actual pronounced decline on the demand side, a price "Armageddon" is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Oil demand continues to climb globally. The International Energy Agency expects demand to hit 1.13 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2016, up from 910,000 bpd in 2015.
As for the much harped-on supply glut… U.S. rig count has fallen sharply to decade lows. Operating companies are postponing expensive projects.
Doomsayers argue there is still considerable volume available from ongoing existing projects. However, that volume is already factored into a market where demand is not collapsing.
Any surpluses are hardly a major factor moving forward.
We won't be returning to triple-digit prices anytime soon. But a new medium-term floor in the mid-$50s in New York is likely. And we'll continue to see fantastic profit-making opportunities in the months ahead.
Dr. Kent Moors is an internationally recognized expert in oil and natural gas policy. He serves as an advisor to the highest levels of the U.S., Russian, Kazakh, Bahamian, Iraqi, and Kurdish governments. Go here for more expert insight on oil prices and energy investing from Moors…