New Stocks Gain for Third Straight Session (AAPL, AGU, BAC, BIIB, CAT, DD, DFS, F, HUM, JCP, JPM, JWN, MCP, MOS, NBR, PCX, PNC, RIMM)

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New York, June 20th ( – Stocks gained after erasing earlier losses, with the S&P 500 rebounding from a level close to its 200day moving average and posting its third consecutive gain, the longest winning streak since May. Participants put aside concerns over the Greek debt crisis as European finance ministers reassured investors that a default could be avoided despite delaying the next round of emergency financial aid to the debt stricken country.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 76.02 points, or 0.63%. The S&P 500 index climbed 6.86 points, or 0.54%, while the NASDAQ added 13.18 points or 0.50%.

The market started in near the neutral line as futures moved from the session lows, as Greece was the main focus of the morning along with weakness in the crude oil market. The delay in the announcement of the second Greek bailout and a warning from Moody’s about Italy’s credit rating were weighing in the market.

In Asia, markets ended lower pressured by the euro zone sovereign debt crisis. The Nikkei most notably ended unchanged, its trade balance figures showed worse than expected export numbers. After the market close, the Japanese government upgraded its economic assessment of the country.

In Europe, equity markets fell on growing concern over the euro zone crisis amid a delay in the release of financial aid to Greece until the Greek government introduces the highly unpopular austerity measures. The markets closed lower but off their lows for the session as the default concern eased somewhat.

Among the S&P 500 sectors, healthcare, consumer discretionary, and materials posted the bets performances, while energy, technology and financials underperformed. Finanicals was the only sector that finished in negative territory as banks were under pressure from concern over systemic risk entering the system if Greece defaults and after Goldman Sachs reduced its economic forecast for the U.S. and Citigroup cut its estimates and target prices in key banks in the sector.

JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), the nation’s biggest lenders, lost more than 0.75%, leading the declines in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Citi cut its second quarter estimates on JPMorgan to $1.36 from $1.39 versus consensus of $1.21 and slashed its target price on Bank of America to $16 from $17. Additionally, a separate report indicated that the Charlotte, NC based bank was considering the sale of its interest in China Construction Bank.

PNC Financial (NYSE:PNC), the regional bank headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, fell 1.96% to $56.66 after the lender confirmed it will buy Royal Bank of Canada’s U.S. retail bank unit for $3.45 billion.

Meanwhile, also in the sector Discover Financial (NYSE:DFS), the credit card issuer and electronic payment services company, jumped 2.3% to $23.62, closing very near to its calculated resistance at $23.75 after KBW raised its price target on the stock to $30 from $26.

Healthcare was able the top performer sector, posting a gain of more than 1% as a group. Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB), the Cambridge, Massachusetts based biotechnology company focusing on neurology, oncology, and immunology, was a notable outperformer in the sector, with shares jumping 4.05% to $98.6 after it was upgraded to a Buy at ISI Group.

Also lifting the sector were the healthcare insurers, with Humana (NYSE:HUM), the managed healthcare provider, rallying 3.55% to $80.26, closing just below its calculated resistance level at $80.81.

Energy turned positive, as crude oil finished with modest gains, just above $93 per barrel. Oil was able to recoup overnight losses as the Dollar gave back its gains against the euro. The sector was a mixed bag with coal stocks receiving a bid and drillers falling following Nabors (NYSE:NBR) warning that its results will be lower than consensus as its pumping and international businesses have been weaker than it expected.

Meanwhile, Patriot Coal (NYSE:PCX), the operator of coalmines in Central and Northern Appalachia and the Illinois Basin, gained 1.79% to $19.32 after it was upgraded to a Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs. The firm added the stock to its coveted Conviction Buy List.

Consumer discretionary saw strength on the back of gains in retail, which participants were bidding the space as lower crude oil prices will likely be bullish for the U.S. consumer as disposable income will increase. J.C. Penny (NYSE:JCP), the department stores operator based in Plano, TX, provided additional details of its CEO succession, Mr. Ron Johnson, Apple’s Vice President of Retail will assume the CEO role in the retailer in November, and will join its Board of Directors in August. Shares jumped 2.62% to $35.19.

Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), the upscale department store chain, rallied 2.67% to $44.93 in the session, closing above calculated resistance at $44.45.

Also in the sector, Ford (NYSE:F), the Dearborn, MI based automaker, climbed 1.33% to $12.94 on reports the company is spending $1 billion to develop a new generation of vehicles for its struggling Lincoln brand. The stock had closed below its calculated support at $12.78 last week.

Industrials outperformed the broad market index, on the back of gains in Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT). The world’s largest earthmoving equipment, rallied 2.32% to $98.18, posting the biggest percentage gain in the blue chip index after the stock was upgraded to a Buy at Raymond James and a Dealer Retail report showed very strong sales all around the world.

Materials gained 0.8% as a group. DuPont (NYSE:DD), the third largest U.S. chemical maker and life science Company, gained 1.65% to $50.26, posting the second biggest jump in the blue chip index after strength in the AG space helped the stock.

Agrium (NYSE:AGU), the producer of major agricultural nutrients, jumped 4.05% to $82.98, after the company raised its second quarter EPS guidance well above consensus. And after Mosaic (NYSE:MOS), the concentrated phosphates, and potash producer, gained 2.38% to $60.73 UBS initiated its coverage with a Buy.

Also in the space, Molycorp (NYSE:MCP), the owner of the world’s largest non-Chinese rare earth metals deposits, surged 7.17% to $52.44, after it was upgraded to Overweight from Neutral at Piper Jaffray. The firm set its target price at $73. Molycorp has calculated support at $46.40 and resistance at $66.43.

In technology, the major news was Apple’s underperformance. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) fell 1.54% to $315.32 after trading as low as $310.50, a 7-month low. Apple was not able to garner any support until the $310 level after it breached its calculated support at $318.33. The stock has been under heavy pressure since breaking below its 200day moving average last week. Apple is now close to $50 lower from its all-time high of $364.90 posted in mid February and the stock is now posting a 2.24% year to date loss after dropping 9.3% in June, which with only 8 sessions left could be the worst monthly performance in the stock in 3 years.

Apple has been suffering from concerns over supply chain disruptions, which are limiting the iPad production and shipments and have forced Apple to delay the launch of its iPhone 5 until the September timeframe. In today’s session, weakness in rival Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) probably impacted sentiment on Apple as well.

Research In Motion tumbled 6.70% to $25.89, extending last week plunged which following a top line miss and a weak outlook. Research In Motion was downgraded today to Underperform from Market Perform at Bernstein.

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