Weekly Wrap-Up 26 December 2014

December 26th, 2014
in contributors, syndication, forex

United States stocks higher at close of trade

by Staff,

United States stocks were higher after the close on Friday, as gains in the UtilitiesHealthCare and Telecommunications sectors led shares higher.

At the close in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.13% to hit a new all time high, while the S&P 500 index added 0.33%, and the NASDAQ Composite index added 0.70%.

Follow up:

The best performers of the session on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD), which rose 1.01% or 0.95 points to trade at 94.78 at the close. Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) added 0.73% or 0.23 points to end at 31.65 and Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) was up 0.65% or 0.61 points to 95.03 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), which fell 0.61% or 0.57 points to trade at 93.21 at the close. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) declined 0.54% or 0.26 points to end at 47.88 and 3M Company (NYSE:MMM) was down 0.42% or 0.70 points to 166.26.

The top performers on the S&P 500 were Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) which rose 3.42% to 113.35, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:REGN) which was up 3.34% to settle at 413.48 and Nabors Industries Ltd (NYSE:NBR) which gained 3.22% to close at 12.82.
The worst performers were Newfield Exploration Company (NYSE:NFX) which was down 3.19% to 26.97 in late trade, Noble Energy Inc (NYSE:NBL) which lost 2.64% to settle at 47.22 and Tenet Healthcare Corporation (NYSE:THC) which was down 2.15% to 51.31 at the close.

The top performers on the NASDAQ Composite were Atossa Genetics Inc (NASDAQ:ATOS) which rose 31.47% to 1.880, LiveDeal Inc (NASDAQ:LIVE) which was up 26.05% to settle at 3.29 and Synacor Inc (NASDAQ:SYNC) which gained 22.62% to close at 2.06.
The worst performers were Response Genetics Inc (NASDAQ:RGDX) which was down 18.41% to 0.300 in late trade, Jacksonville Bancorp Inc (NASDAQ:JAXB) which lost 17.11% to settle at 12.400 and UBIC Inc (NASDAQ:UBIC) which was down 12.93% to 13.06 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the New York Stock Exchange by 1899 to 889; on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, 1765 rose and 1000 declined, while 9 ended unchanged.

Shares in Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) rose to 52 week highs; up 0.65% or 0.61 to 95.03.
Shares in Response Genetics Inc (NASDAQ:RGDX) fell to 52 week lows; falling 18.41% or 0.068 to 0.300.

The CBOE Volatility Index, which measures the implied volatility of S&P 500 options, was up 1.53% to 14.59.

Gold (see full report below) for February delivery was up 1.90% or 22.30 to $1195.80 a troy ounce.
Elsewhere in commodities trading, crude oil for delivery in February fell 1.60% or 0.90 to hit $54.95 a barrel, while the February brent oil contract fell 1.15% or 0.69 to trade at $59.55 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.38% to 1.2180, while USD/JPY rose 0.25% to 120.39.

The US Dollar Index was up 0.07% at 90.31. Full Forex report follows.


The dollar remained near nine-year highs against the other major currencies on Tuesday, after a string of upbeat U.S. economic reports sparked further optimism over the strength of the country's recovery.

Trading volumes were expected to remain light this week with many investors away for the Christmas holiday and ahead of the New Year's holiday.

In a revised report, the University of Michigan said its consumer sentiment index ticked down to 93.6 this month from a reading of 93.8 in November. Analysts expected the index to fall to 93.1 in December.

The U.S. Census Bureau said new home sales fell 1.6% last month to 438,000 units from a revised total of 445,000 units in October. Analysts had expected new home sales to hit 460,000 in November.

Data also showed that U.S. personal spending rose 0.6% in November, exceeding expectations for a 0.5% gain, after an upwardly revised 0.3% rise in October.

The reports came after final data showed that U.S. gross domestic product rose 5.0% in the third quarter, exceeding expectations for a growth rate of 4.3% and up from 3.9% in the three months to June.

Another report showed that U.S. durable goods orders slipped 0.7% last month, confounding expectations for a 3.0% increase, while core durable goods orders, which exclude transportation items, fell 0.4% in November after a 1.0% decline in October.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was rose 0.37% to 90.28, the highest level since December 2005.

EUR/USD hit fresh two-year lows at 1.2165 before retracing to 1.2186, down 0.35% for the day.

The pound dropped to 16-month lows against the dollar, with GBP/USD down 0.54% to 1.5505.

In a report, the Office for National Statistics said the U.K. current account deficit widened to £27.0 billion in the third quarter from £24.3 billion in the second quarter, whose figure was revised from a previously estimated deficit of £23.1 billion.

A separate report showed that U.K. gross domestic product rose 0.7% in the third quarter, in line with expectations and down from a 0.8% growth rate in the three months to June.

Year-on-year, the U.K. economy grew at a rate of 3.6% in the last quarter, above expectations for growth of 3.0% and unchanged from the second quarter's revised rate.

The Swiss franc remained near two-year highs, with USD/CHF up 0.27% at 0.9867, while the yen reached fresh two-week lows, with USD/JPY gaining 0.48% to 120.65.

The Russian ruble was higher against the dollar, with USD/RUB down 0.70% at 55.45, as it remained supported ahead of major month-end tax payments in Russia.

The Australian dollar was trading near four-and-a-half year lows, with AUD/USD down 0.32% at 0.8106, while NZD/USD slipped 0.10% to 0.7720 after data showed that New Zealand's trade deficit narrowed far more-than-expected to NZ$213 million last month, from NZ$911 million in October.

Meanwhile, USD/CAD edged down 0.11% to 1.1621 after data showed that Canada's GDP rose 0.3% in October, beating expectations for a growth rate of 0.1% and down from 0.4% in September.

Commitment of Traders

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission released its weekly Commitments of Traders report for the week ending December 16 on Friday. Speculators were less bearish on most currencies except for the Canadian dollar and Mexican peso. Bullishness surged for the S&P 500 and increased modestly for gold.



Gold prices pulled away from a three-week low on Tuesday, but still remained below the $1,200 threshold as the strong U.S. dollar continued to weigh on the precious metal.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for February delivery were up 0.23% to $1,182.50.

The February contract ended Monday's session 1.35% lower at $1,179.80 an ounce.

The dollar remained supported after the Federal Reserve signaled last week that it was on track to raise interest rates next year but said it was taking a patient stance.

Higher U.S. interest rates would boost the greenback and weigh on gold, which has benefited from central bank liquidity and a low interest rate environment since the 2008 financial crisis.

The central bank also acknowledged the improvement in the U.S. labor market and noted that the economy is making progress toward its goals in inflation and employment.

Trading volumes were expected to remain light this week with many investors away for the Christmas holiday and ahead of the New Year's holiday.

At the close of trading in metals Tuesday 23 December, silver for March delivery gained 0.40% to $15.750 a troy ounce, while copper futures for March delivery were steady at $2.873 a pound.


Oil prices fell Friday, tumbling as the dollar strengthened and a supply glut in top consumer the United States trumped worries about falling production from Libya.

The market had come under pressure from Wednesday's Energy Department report, which showed a 7.3 million-barrel rise in crude inventories to their highest December level on record. Analysts had expected a seasonal decline.

The slide was exacerbated as oil prices reacted to a strengthening dollar index.

"There's still significant weakness in confidence, and that means that we're going to have occasional retests to the downside," said Richard Hastings of Global Hunter Securities. The strengthening dollar index triggered the slide Friday, he said.

Additionally, the market continued to reel from bearish storage data just before the Christmas holiday.

"The numbers on Wednesday were really bearish, and it's possible the market is still trying to digest them," said Andrew Lebow of Jefferies in New York. "Maybe the path of least resistance is down here, given that we've been in a long down trend."

Crude imports by Japan, the world's fourth-biggest oil buyer, dropped 17.3 percent in November from a year earlier to 14.68 million kilolitres (3.08 million bpd), government data showed on Thursday.

Brent crude fell 94 cents to $59.34 at 2:21 p.m., while U.S. crude fell $1.29 to $54.55 in thin trade as many countries were still on holiday.

More on oil from Reuters at

Natural Gas

Natural gas futures dropped to nearly two-year lows on Tuesday, after diving over 9% in the previous session as milder-than-expected winter weather and rising supplies continued to weigh.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in January were down 1.03% at $3.113 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning trade, the lowest level since January 2013.

Natural gas futures remained under broad selling pressure as unseasonably warm weather throughout December weighed on demand for home heating and allowed relatively low stockpiles to catch up to where they were a year ago.

The home heating fuel had received a boost last week, when weather forecasting models indicated that temperatures in the Midwest, Great Lakes and mid-Atlantic regions of the country would be lower than normal from December 27 to December 31.

Meteorologists have been predicting a colder-than-normal January and February.

Approximately 49% of U.S. households use gas for heating, according to the EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department.


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