With the Federal Reserve finally beginning to taper its stimulus
programs, the financial markets are turning attention to other
influences today. Equities are fractionally lower in very light
profit-taking, exacerbated by bearish economic data and pulling the
three major indices off yesterday's post-FOMC highs.
Razor-thin ranges are also being established as the Christmas
holiday winds down with few traders stepping too far from the pack
ahead of Q3 GDP due out tomorrow. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is
underperforming with bio-tech stocks taking the brunt of the
selling pressure, while the Dow Industrials Average is being
weighed down by weakness in industrials as well as the
interest-rate sensitive utility sector.
The job market appeared slightly worrisome during the week ended
Dec. 14, with first-time unemployment claims rising to their
highest level in nine months, increasing 10,000 to 379,000 new
claims, well above consensus estimates expecting a 32,000 decline
The Philadelphia business conditions index showed small
improvement from November, although the 7.0 reading likewise
trailed expectations for a 10.0 reading. Leading indicators
improved 0.8% in November, narrowly exceeding market estimates for
a 0.7% gain.
But it was the surprising decline in existing home sales that
caught the market's attention, falling 4.3% in November to an
annual pace of 4.9 million - the slowest pace for home sales in
nearly a year. It was the third consecutive month of weaker home
sales, underscoring the detrimental impact higher Treasury yields
and higher mortgage rates are having on the housing market.
Europe capitalized on yesterday's gains in the U.S. and closed
higher across the board as Investors shrugged of weak UK retail
sales took advantage of cheaper prices after recent declines in
Crude oil was up $0.85 to $98.65 per barrel. Natural gas was up
$0.17 to $4.43 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $36.10 to $1,198.90
an ounce, while silver was down $0.88 to $19.18 an ounce. Copper
was down $0.03 to $3.29 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 1.11% to
$35.42 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 4.07% to
$21.76. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold
Miners ETF was down 1.61% to 20.59 while SPDR Gold Shares was down
1.60% to $115.71. The iShares Silver Trust was down 2.88% to
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index down 18.39 (-0.18%) to 10,135.81
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 3.53 (+0.02%) to 16,171.50
S&P 500 down 2.48 (-0.14%) to 1,808.17
Nasdaq Composite Index down 12.66 (-0.31%) to 4,057.40
Nikkei 225 Index up 1.74%
Hang Seng Index down 1.10%
Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.95%
FTSE 100 Index up 1.43%
CAC 40 up 1.64%
DAX up 1.68%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.04%
NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.22%
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 0.13%
(+) CHTP (+3.48%) JMP initiated coverage of the stock at
Outperform and an $8 price target.
(+) OXBT (+36.15%) The company expects its 2014 milestones to
include enrollment in a Phase 3 trial for levosimendan, and
completion of Army-funded preclinical safety studies for
(+) ACN (+4.38%) Reported Q1 EPS of $1.15, vs. the analyst
consensus of $1.10 per share. Revenue was $7.4 bln, vs.
expectations of $7.24 bln.
(-) TSLA (-5.14%) Ohio car dealers are suing Tesla, saying that
its sales model is in violation of state law.
(-) WGO (-10.21%) Net revenue climbed 15% to $222.7 million, but
missed the mean estimate of two analysts for $226 million,
according to Capital IQ.
(-) SMTC (-13.50%) Downgraded by four analyst firms after
issuing weak outlook for earnings during the three months ending
Jan. 26, 2014.
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