Investing.com Weekly Wrap-Up 02 January 2015

January 2nd, 2015
in contributors, syndication, forex

United States stocks lower at close of trade

by Investing.com Staff, Investing.com

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United States stocks were lower after the close on Friday, as losses in the Consumer ServicesConsumer Goods and Industrials sectors led shares lower.

At the close in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.48%, while the S&P 500 index lost 0.10%, and the NASDAQ Composite index declined 0.20%.

Follow up:

The best performers of the session on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM), which rose 1.01% or 1.62 points to trade at 162.06 at the close. Meanwhile, AT&T Inc (NYSE:T) added 0.89% or 0.30 points to end at 33.89 and Visa Inc (NYSE:V) was up 0.73% or 1.91 points to 264.11 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD), which fell 1.47% or 1.54 points to trade at 103.43 at the close. Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) declined 1.16% or 1.12 points to end at 95.03 and Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) was down 0.88% or 0.80 points to 90.29.

The top performers on the S&P 500 were Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:VRTX) which rose 3.59% to 123.07, Range Resources Corporation (NYSE:RRC) which was up 3.26% to settle at 55.19 and Laboratory Corporation of America (NYSE:LH) which gained 3.26% to close at 111.42.
The worst performers were Gannett Co Inc (NYSE:GCI) which was down 3.98% to 30.66 in late trade, Nabors Industries Ltd (NYSE:NBR) which lost 3.77% to settle at 12.49 and Staples Inc (NASDAQ:SPLS) which was down 2.81% to 17.61 at the close.

The top performers on the NASDAQ Composite were Brainstorm Cell Therapuetics Inc (NASDAQ:BCLI) which rose 57.56% to 7.5000, Viggle (NASDAQ:VGGL) which was up 25.38% to settle at 3.31 and Spanish Broadcasting System Inc (NASDAQ:SBSA) which gained 22.51% to close at 2.83.
The worst performers were Nephrogenex (NASDAQ:NRX) which was down 20.00% to 10.68 in late trade, MiMedx Group Inc (NASDAQ:MDXG) which lost 15.52% to settle at 9.74 and ePlus inc (NASDAQ:PLUS) which was down 9.87% to 68.22 at the close.

Falling stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the New York Stock Exchange by 1558 to 1250; on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, 1145 fell and 695 advanced, while 931 ended unchanged.

Shares in Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:VRTX) rose to 52 week highs; rising 3.59% or 4.27 to 123.07.
Shares in Laboratory Corporation of America (NYSE:LH) rose to 52 week highs; gaining 3.26% or 3.52 to 111.42.
Shares in Brainstorm Cell Therapuetics Inc (NASDAQ:BCLI) rose to 52 week highs; gaining 57.56% or 2.7400 to 7.5000.

The CBOE Volatility Index, which measures the implied volatility of S&P 500 options, was down 8.18% to 17.63.

Forex

The dollar remained close to nine-year highs against the other major currencies on Friday, despite a downbeat report on U.S. manufacturing activity as expectations for a U.S. rate hike in the near future continued to lend broad support to the greenback.

The Institute of Supply Management said its manufacturing purchasing managers' index fell to a five-month low of 55.5 this month from a reading of 58.7 in November, compared to expectations for a downtick to 57.6.

But the dollar remained broadly supported, as a recent string of upbeat U.S. data sparked optimism over the strength of the country's economic recovery and added to expectations for the Federal Reserve to soon raise interest rates.

Investors continued to focus on developments in Greece, where parliament was formally dissolved on Wednesday after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras failed earlier in the week to persuade lawmakers to back his candidate for head of state, casting the country's international bailout into doubt.

Parliamentary elections were set for January 25, almost 18 months before the current coalition's term was due to end.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was up 0.60% to 91.18, the highest level since December 2005.

EUR/USD hit fresh four-and-a-half year lows of 1.2009 before pulling back to 1.2028, down 0.63% for the day.

Research group Markit earlier said that the euro zone's manufacturing PMI fell to 50.6 in December from 50.8 in November. Analysts had expected the index to remain unchanged this month.

Germany's manufacturing PMI remained unchanged at 51.2 this month, in line with expectations, while France's manufacturing PMI hit 47.5 in December, down from 47.9 the previous month and confounding expectations for an unchanged reading.

Also Friday, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the risk of deflation in the euro zone cannot be excluded, signaling the possibility of large-scale quantitative easing measures.

The pound remained near 17-month lows against the dollar, with GBP/USD down 1.11% to 1.5404.

Markit earlier reported that the U.K. manufacturing PMI slipped to 52.5 this month from a reading of 53.5 in November. Analysts had expected the index to rise to 53.6 in December.

A separate report showed that U.K. mortgage approvals rose by £59,030 in November, beating expectations for an increase of £58,530. October's figure was revised to a £59,510 gain from a previously estimated £59,430 rise.

Elsewhere, USD/JPY rose 0.24% to 102.03, while USD/CHF gained 0.58% to 0.9991, just under a four-year peak of 0.9929 hit overnight.

The Australian dollar was still hovering near last week's four-and-a-half year lows of 0.8084, with AUD/USD down 0.71% at 0.8122, while NZD/USD tumbled 0.90% to trade at 0.7729. Meanwhile, USD/CAD hit a five-hear peak of 1.1709 before consolidating at 1.1721, up 0.89% for the day.

Gold

Gold prices edged higher on Friday, but still remained below the $1,200 threshold as markets re-opened after the New Year Holiday and the broadly stronger dollar continued to weigh on demand for the precious metal.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for February delivery were up 0.16% to $1,186.00.

The February contract ended Wednesday's session 1.36% lower at $1,184.10 an ounce.

The dollar remained broadly supported as a recent string of upbeat U.S. data sparked optimism over the strength of the country's economic recovery and added to expectations for the Federal Reserve to soon raise interest rates.

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 U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was up 0.38% to 90.99, the highest level since December 2005.

Separately, investors continued to focus on developments in Greece, where parliament was formally dissolved on Wednesday after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras failed earlier in the week to persuade lawmakers to back his candidate for head of state, casting the country's international bailout into doubt.

Parliamentary elections were set for January 25, almost 18 months before the current coalition's term was due to end.

Elsewhere in metals trading, silver for March delivery jumped 1.37% to $15.813 a troy ounce, while copper futures for March delivery rose 0.25% to $2.833 a pound.

Oil

Global benchmark Brent crude oil closed down nearly a dollar a barrel Friday after a day of choppy trading despite expectations of new investments in the new year, as strong mid-day rallies in crude fizzled.

Brent was down 91 cents at $56.42 a barrel. Earlier, it touched a post-2009 low of $55.48, having averaged around $110 a barrel between 2011 and 2013.

Front-month U.S. crude for February delivery settled down 58 cents a barrel at $52.69, before a steep 50-cent drop post-settlement.

The U.S. dollar index was 0.9 percent stronger on Friday. The combination of the supply glut and the strong dollar has been a "double whammy" for crude oil prices, said Walter Zimmerman, chief technical analyst at United-ICAP. Zimmerman said:

"This is a long-term cyclical downtrend. It's going to take a while for prices to fall low enough to cut off that excess production."

Low trading volume also made the market vulnerable to knee-jerk reactions.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz is suffering from pneumonia and temporarily needed help to breathe through a tube on Friday but the procedure was successful and his condition was now stable, the royal court said.

OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which includes Saudi Arabia, declined to restrict oil output in November despite pressure from its member nations.

Iran's deputy foreign minister urged regional rival Saudi Arabia on Thursday to take action to support oil prices, saying producer countries across the Middle East will be hurt unless the price slump is reversed.

In the United States, benchmark oil prices took some support from data on Wednesday showing inventories fell by 1.8 million barrels in the last week, but an increase of 2 million barrels at the U.S. crude contract's delivery hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, kept prices under pressure.

"... traders were searching for a bottom in U.S. crude around the $52 a barrel mark, but Friday contained mostly sideways trading due to thin volume", said Carl Larry, director of business development at Frost & Sullivan.

"We're all waiting for the new money to come in next week," he said.

Natural Gas

Natural gas futures were higher on Friday, easing off two-year lows as reports of an outbreak of cold January weather was expected to stoke demand for the heating fuel.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in January were up 4.83% at $3.029 per million British thermal units during U.S. morning trade.

Natural gas futures found support after the U.S. government's Global Forecast System published earlier in the week showed "a stronger cold push" in the Midwest.

The report also showed lower temperature readings for the Plains, Texas and the Northeast for January 3 through January 7, while forecasts turned colder in the central and northern mid-Atlantic regions for the following five days.

However, forecasts from Commodity Weather Group on Friday indicated that the weather in January will be 6.7% warmer than a year earlier.

Natural gas prices dropped below $3 per million British thermal units last week to the lowest level since September 2012, as unusually mild winter weather limited demand while production soared.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage fell by 26 billion cubic feet last week, compared to expectations for a decline of 38 billion after a drop of 49 billion in the previous week.

Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 3,220 trillion cubic feet.

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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