Dow Crosses 13K Line, Falls Back

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The Dow crossed the 13000 mark for the first time in nearly four years before falling back as traders took time to digest a slew of corporate news and a finalized Greek debt deal.

Today's Markets

As of 3:30 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.3 point, or 0.01%, to 12949, the S&P 500 slipped 1.3 points, or 0.09%, to 1360 and the Nasdaq Composite dipped 12.7 points, or 0.41%, to 2940.

The 13000 threshold is psychologically important because it means the blue-chip average has completely rebounded from the financial crisis that sent stocks spiraling and threw the financial system and economy into a tailspin during 2008. Indeed, the last time the Dow traded at these levels, the unemployment rate was 5.4%, slightly more than half of the 10% hit in October 2009, and Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch stood as standalone entities.

The markets have had a strong year, with the Dow zooming 6%, and the broader S&P 500 jumping 8.2%.

Alcoa (NYSE:AA) was the best performer out of the blue chips on a percent basis by a wide margin on the day, rallying more than 2%. Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) contributed 23 points to the Dow.

On the other end of the spectrum, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) fell more than 4% after its quarterly results disappointed traders. The world's biggest retailer tore 20.8 points from the Dow's overall performance.

After months of marathon summits, last-minute parliamentary votes and intense protests, European Union leaders finally signed off on a $172 billion bailout package for Greece Monday night. A critical component of the deal was a debt exchange in which private creditors will voluntarily give up 53.5% in face value of their bond holdings.

Through the that maneuver, deep austerity measures, and other reforms, European Union officials hope the country will be able to cut its public debt down to 121% of its economic output by 2020. Perhaps more importantly in the short-run, the deal should allow Greece to receive rescue aid before its next bond payment is due on March 20, meaning it will avoid a default that could have dealt a painful blow to financial markets.

Still, many analysts have remained only cautiously optimistic since the deal involves so many separate parts, and hinges on austerity measures that are highly unpopular in the country.

"This is a clear step forward for Greece and the euro area, but several implementation and political risks remain," according to analysts at Barclays Capital.

Echoing that view, Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG wrote in a note to clients that "it is only a matter of time until this matter is revisited with an outcome equally uncertain."

European shares were modestly lower on the day after rallying in the prior session. The euro fell 0.23% to $1.3212, while the dollar rose 0.08% against a basket of six world currencies tracked by the dollar index.

Traders also had a slew of corporate earnings results to parse through, including three Dow components.

Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) posted a fourth-quarter profit on continuing operations of $1.51 a share, topping estimates of $1.45. The world’s largest retailer, however, reported quarterly revenue of $122.3 billion, which fell short of the $124.2 billion analysts anticipated.

Home Depot posted a quarterly profit and revenue that topped Wall Street's estimates as a warm winter led consumers to take on projects they may have otherwise completed during spring, giving sales a boost.

Kraft Foods (NYSE:KFT) reported a higher quarterly profit that matched analysts' estimates, but the maker of products like Oreo cookies posted sales that were shy of expectations.

Commodities were broadly to the upside on the day. The benchmark crude oil contract traded in New York jumped $2.65, or 2.6%, to $106.25 a barrel. Oil is now trading at its highest level since May, having soared 7.1% so far this year.

Wholesale RBOB gasoline rose 1.8% to $3.07 a gallon.

In metals, gold was up $32.60, or 1.9%, to $1,759 a troy ounce. Meanwhile, traders sold U.S. Treasury bonds, pushing yields higher. The benchmark 10-year yields 2.052% from 2.007%.

Corporate News

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) said its world dealer-reported retail sales jumped 27% in the three-month rolling period ended in January.

Macy’s (NYSE:M) revealed an adjusted fourth-quarter profit of $1.70 a share, beating expectations of $1.65. The department store chain’s revenue came in at $8.72 billion, matching estimates.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips fell 0.34%, the English FTSE 100 slipped 0.29% to 5928 and the German DAX dipped 0.58% to 6908.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 fell 0.23% to 9463 and the Chinese Hang Seng edged higher by 0.25% to 21479.