Monday, December 21, 2015
Stocks are on track to start today's session in positive territory despite further weakness in oil prices . But the gains at the open may not have much staying power in the current backdrop of heightened volatility, particularly for this holiday-shortened week.
We don't have much on the data calendar today. But we have a busy reporting docket the rest of this week, with Thursday only a half day for the markets. The final look at the Q3 GDP report coming out tomorrow may not be much of a market mover, but Wednesday's docket is super busy, with Durable Goods, Personal Income & Spending, Consumer Sentiment and New Home Sales coming out that day.
Markets close early on Thursday with initial Jobless Claims the only notable report that day. None of these are top-tier market movers. But with trading volumes thinning out ahead of the holiday, markets could trade erratically relative to 'normal' trading environments.
A brief comment on oil market developments, with prices of both the U.S. as well as international benchmarks going down in today's session: it is hard to make sense of oil's day-to-day movement. But as painful as these low prices are for oil producers, low prices are also the best antidote to over-supplied markets.
The expected declines in U.S. production has been slower than many of us expected - the declines are there, but the pace of declines has been a lot slower, with last week's increase in the rig count as very surprising. Calls from some quarters of $20 oil notwithstanding, I strongly believe that prices are current levels aren't sustainable for any extended period of time.
The Star Wars juggernaut is defying all expectations in a potential huge payout for Disney ( DIS ). The film has already made an all-time record of $500 million in box-office revenue for the opening weekend, with many expecting the final tally to reach as high as $3 billion. The media giant has plans for sequels in the coming years that will help it milk the lucrative franchise for years to come. Disney shares, which are down more than -14% year to date, are expected to bask in the Star Wars afterglow today.
But a number of analysts doubt whether the media house's Star Wars franchise will be enough to steady the company's long-term fortunes given headwinds in the company's much bigger TV business, particularly the ESPN channel. We will see how all of this shakes out, but the force is definitely with Disney at present.
Director of Research
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