Midday Update: Market Rebound Led By Gains in Oil Stocks; Weak Housing Data Calms Taper Jitters

Stocks are modestly higher today with investors shrugging off tensions in the Middle East and instead focusing on surging oil prices. Led by gains among energy stocks, all three of the major market gauges are on the plus side, recouping a portion of the losses from Tuesday's rout. Tapering concerns were mitigated by a larger-than-expected 1.3% drop in pending home sales. Lingering pressure on emerging markets also is providing a boost to U.S. equities.

Questions whether rising financing cost are affecting home sales were answered by figures released today by the National Association of Realtors, with a larger-than-expected decline in pending home sales during July. Market experts were looking for a 1.0% decline. The drop in homes under contract also pulled the home sales index down to a 109.5 reading from 110.9 in June.

Although U.S. markets were able to recover from yesterday's crushing sell-off, European markets were not as fortunate with the crisis over a possible military action against Syria having a far more detrimental effect on overseas markets. All three of the major European bourses closed lower again today.

Crude oil was up $1.26 to $110.29 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.05 to $3.64 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $0.20 to $1,420.70 an ounce, while silver was down $0.26 to $24.44 an ounce. Copper was down $0.02 to $3.31 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 1.16% to $39.32 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 1.24% to $18.53. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 1.93% to 29.77 while SPDR Gold Shares were up 0.10% to $136.90. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.38% to $23.50.

Here's where the U.S. markets stand at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index up 33.49 (+0.36%) to 9,321.60

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 62.41 (+0.42%) to 14,838.54

S&P 500 up 8.37 (+0.51%) to 1,638.85

Nasdaq Composite Index up 21.24 (+0.59%) to 3,599.76


Nikkei 225 Index down 1.51%

Hang Seng Index down 1.60%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.11%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.17%

CAC 40 down 0.21%

DAX down 1.03%


NYSE Energy Sector Index up 1.71%

NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.27%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index down 0.08%


(+) ASTX (+21.7%) Reports positive topline results from Phase II testing of its SGI-110 drug candidate in patients with AML and MDS.

(+) KEQU (+18.2%) Posts strong Q2 earnings; sales rise 20% year over year.

(+) EXPR (+7.3%) Apparel retailer beats revenue estimates and raised its FY13 guidance.


(-) FRO (-8.1%) Oil tanker firm reported a much wider net $1.54 per share in Q2 than the $0.54 loss Wall Street was expecting.

(-) JOY (-5.2%) Shares pressured by a 5.3% decline in Q3 profit and 4.9% decline in quarterly sales.

(-) TIF (-3.8%) Luxury retailer was undermined by downgrades by Citigroup and CLSA following Q2 revenue that trailed estimates.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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