The U.S. stock market grinded higher on Tuesday, closing the day near session highs. Investors are currently enjoying a strong start to the year as volatility has been near non-existent and money continues to flow into risk assets. The major story on Wall Street currently is earnings season with reports from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) on tap after the closing bell.
Existing Home Sales
The only major economic release on the docket for Tuesday was existing home sales, which came in below expectations. Home sales fell to 4.94 million in December versus 4.99 million in the prior month. This came in below consensus expectations of 5.10 million.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 62 points, or 0.46 percent, to close at 13,712.
The S&P 500 rose around 6.5 points, or 0.44 percent, to finish at 1,492.5.
The Nasdaq was the laggard on the day, but still managed to record a gain of better than 8 points, or 0.27 percent, to just over 3,143.
The U.S. dollar was slightly lower on the session. Heading into the close, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, was down 0.11 percent to $21.83.
The closely watched EUR/USD pair was flat on the day. Other notable currency movers included the Japanese yen, which fell 1.12 percent versus the dollar and the Australian dollar which was up 0.46 percent versus the greenback.
Crude oil rose along with the stock market on Tuesday. At last check, NYMEX crude futures were up 0.71 percent to $96.24. Brent crude was trading up 0.64 percent to $112.64. Natural gas futures lost 0.31 percent and were last trading at $3.55.
Precious metals were also higher on the day. COMEX gold futures were last trading up 0.25 percent to $1,691.10 while silver futures were up 0.92 percent to $32.23.
Grains were higher across the board with the exception of wheat futures which lost 1.52 percent. Corn futures were last up 0.14 percent.
Late in the session, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE:TLT) was up 0.14 percent to $120.21. Yields were down one basis point across the curve. The 2-Year was sitting at 0.24 percent while the 5-Year yield was at 0.75 percent. The 10-Year Note and 30-Year Bond were yielding 1.83 percent to 3.02 percent, respectively.
Volatility and Volume
Despite a higher stock market, the VIX rose slightly on Tuesday. With the index trading near 52-week lows, some investors likely decided that now was a good time to buy some protection for their portfolios. The VIX closed the day up 0.88 percent to 12.57.
Volume was very light on the session with just 82 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) shares trading hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 139 million.
Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) shares were active on the session as rumors continue to swirl about a possible private equity acquisition of the company. The stock closed up more than 2 percent to $13.13. Reports indicated that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) may be interested in investing in a potential deal.
Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) surged 13 percent on Tuesday after CEO, Thorsten Heins, said that he would consider splitting the company up by selling off the hardware division and licensing RIM's software.
Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) fell around 1.20 percent on the day as investors continue to fret about the company's Dreamliner problems.
Hard drive makers Western Digital (NASDAQ:WDC) and Seagate Technology (NYSE:STX) surged on Tuesday ahead of WDC's earnings which are due out on Wednesday after the close. Seagate climbed around 7 percent while Western Digital closed with a gain of almost 6 percent.
Verizon (NYSE:VZ) rose a little less than 1 percent after releasing its quarterly earnings results.
Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) jumped nearly 3 percent on the session in the wake of the company's earnings results.
Travelers (NYSE:TRV) closed the day with a better than 2 percent gain after releasing its quarterly results.
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