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26Dec2017 Market Close: Wall Street Closes Mostly Down, Santa Rally Still In The Cards, WTI Crude Settles In The High 59 Handle After 'touching' 60, Gold Index Continues To Climb

Written by Gary

The US equities main benchmarks closed down with the DOW flat (SPY -0.1%), the $NDX closing down -0.5%. US crude hits $60 a barrel for the first time since June 2015.

Todays S&P 500 Chart

The Market in Perspective

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Apple and its suppliers weigh on Wall Street

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks declined on Tuesday as Apple and some of its suppliers weighed on the technology sector on a report of soft iPhone X demand.

Apple suppliers drop on report of weak iPhone X demand; analysts' views mixed

BEIJING (Reuters) - Shares in several of Apple Inc's Asian suppliers fell for a second straight day on Tuesday, hurt by a report from Taiwan's Economic Daily and some analysts saying that iPhone X demand could come in below expectations in the first quarter.

Bitcoin recovers some losses after its worst week since 2013

SINGAPORE/TOKYO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bitcoin rose 15 percent on Tuesday, recouping about half of the losses it sustained last week, its worst since 2013, as investors who had missed out on earlier rallies bought the world's biggest and best-known digital currency.

Tesla to make pickup truck after Model Y crossover

(Reuters) - Tesla Inc will build a pickup truck soon after producing electric crossover vehicle Model Y, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday.

U.S. department store stocks jump on holiday spending record

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Shares of U.S. department stores jumped on Tuesday as Mastercard Inc said shoppers spent over $800 billion during the season, more than ever before, boosted by growing consumer confidence, rising employment and early discounts.

Top small-cap funds of 2017 focus on healthcare, tech in year ahead

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Healthcare, technology and Japanese small-cap stocks look poised to outperform the broader market in the year ahead, according to some of the best performing U.S.-based stock fund managers of 2017.

Oil hits 2-1/2 year highs on Libyan pipeline blast

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices touched two-and-a-half year highs in light volume on Tuesday, boosted by an explosion on a crude pipeline in Libya and voluntary OPEC-led supply cuts.

Aston Martin to recall over 5,000 vehicles in U.S.: safety agency

(Reuters) - British sportscar maker Aston Martin is recalling around 5,500 vehicles in the United States due to problems with powertrains and battery cables, according to documents posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) website.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Group to list Oilbank, issue $1.2 billion rights shares

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries Group plans to list its refining arm Hyundai Oilbank in an IPO in 2018 and raise about $1.2 billion via a share issue by shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries , in a move to bolster its finances.

US Spy Satellites Catch Chinese Ships Illegally Selling Oil To North Korea

According to South Korea's Chosun Ilbo, U.S. recon satellites have photographed around 30 illegal transactions involving Chinese vessels selling oil to North Korea on the West Sea in October. The images allegedly showed large Chinese and North Korean ships transacting in oil in a part of the West Sea closer to China than South Korea. The satellite pictures even showed the names of the ships.

A government source said, "We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea's imports of refined petroleum products." Meanwhile, on paper, China's trade with North has recently collapsed after U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed a barrage of sanctions in September targeting North Korea's imports of refined petroleum products.

Back in November, the US. Treasury Department sanctioned an additional six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their ships after the satellite pictures surfaced. In the above picture, the North Korean ship named Ryesonggang 1, was easily identified and connected to the illegal sale of oil from China.

According to Chosun Media, "the department noted that the two ships appeared to be illegally trading in oil from ship to ship to bypass sanctions."

Ship-to-ship trade with North Korea on the ...

"Are Central Bankers About To Lose Control?" The WSJ Asks And Citi Answers

In an article published by the WSJ today, which was originally titled "Are Central Bankers About to Lose Control?" but after some shoulder taps was renamed to the far more neutral "Can Central Banks Keep Control of Interest Rates?" author Jon Sindreu looks at the current Goldilocks state of the market, in which global growth is "coordinated and widespread" yet inflation remains absent preventing central banks from hiking rates rapidly, resulting in "elated investors" who nonetheless are haunted by a question "will interest rates develop a mind of their own?"

The response to this question will also answer the overarching question posed by the WSJ: are central bankers about to lose control after nearly a decade of artificial vol suppression and asset inflation on the back of $15 trillion in excess liquidity. The goalseeked response that the WSJ is looking for, is also the result of a Blackrock report released last week titled "The real story behind low interest rates."

For those who are too busy to bother with the semantic definitions of interest rates and their technical components, whether breakevens or term premia, ultimately the cost of money boils down to one thing: the inflation-adjusted opportunity cost of holding one asset relative to another. This is why the world's central banks have been scrambling over each other to push rates as low as possible for the better part of the past decade to force investors into risky assets, or, as the WSJ puts it, "low inflation-indexed—or "real"—rates push money into risky assets, because investors get little extra purchasing power for hold ...

The Senate Waited Until Christmas To Reveal How Many Harassment Settlements Were Paid Out

Authored by Kevin Haley via The Daily Caller,

As the Christmas holiday weekend set in, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee released a report revealing the Senate has spent $1.5 million on workplace harassment settlements since 1998.

The data, provided by the Office of Compliance, a little known administrative body that has quietly settled dozens of complaints against congressional offices, provides little by way of details, beyond an itemized list of violations and the corresponding settlement.

GOP Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, who chairs the Rules Committee, said further particulars cannot be made public, in order to respect the confidentiality afforded to victims.

"While the Rules Committee has been eager to provide this information in a transparent manner, it has been our priority to protect the victims involved in these settlements from further harm," the senator said in a statement attending the report.

"I am pleased that we have received assurances from Senate Legal Counsel that the release of th ...

British Diplomats Say Ignore The Low Approval Ratings; Prepare For A Trump Second Term

Anyone who consumes even a modest dose of mainstream media is probably convinced by now that the GOP will lose both the Senate and House in 2018 followed by the White House in 2020 (assuming Trump is even able to avoid impeachment, that is). As evidence of that fact, political pundits from MSNBC to CNN frequently point to the following chart of Trump's plunging approval ratings...

...and the 'stunning' loss of Roy Moore in Alabama which Democrats apparently still view a 'referendum' on the Trump administration rather than a referendum on pedophilia.

Be that as it may, the British diplomats who advise Theresa May on how to manage the US-UK "special relationship" say the predictions of a Trump downfall are nothing more than wishful thinking and that the Prime Minister should prepare for the Trump presidency to be extended through 2024. Per The Telegraph:

Donald Trump is on course to win re-election in 2020, senior British diplomats believe, as he approaches his first full year in office.

They think that despite a string of negative headlines the US president has largely kept his support base onside since entering White House.

Possible Democratic contenders are seen as either too old - such as Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden - or lacking in the name ...

Is This as Good as It Gets for Retailers?

It is almost a Christmas miracle. Retailers have taken a beating in the last year, with falling stocks and gloomy predictions of their impending death. Yet in the weeks leading up to Christmas, retail stocks rallied.

China's Bid to Dominate Oil Pricing Will Fail

Chinese regulators say they are on the cusp of launching their own oil futures contract, priced in yuan. Chinese future markets are already key in setting iron and coking coal prices—but a yuan denominated oil contract will struggle.

The Next Deal Target in Health Care

The deal boom in the health-care industry is showing no signs of slowing. That could help one beaten down stock reverse its fortunes.

One sure-fire prediction for 2018: Americans will take on even more debt

Consumers have an increasingly complex relationship with credit.

These side hustles can pay $100,000 a year

Millions of Americans are relying on side hustles to pay for necessary expenses.

Is this what iPhone fatigue looks like?

Why Apple may have lost the plot with the $1,000 iPhone X.

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To contact me with questions, comments or constructive criticism is always encouraged and appreciated:

gary@econintersect.com

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