After coming within a fraction of a point from the 20,000 level on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) explored a relatively narrow range today, but failed to find its way into positive territory, as falling crude oil prices weighed on stocks. Still, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) managed to outperform, thanks to strength in the biotech sector, snagging new record highs on both an intraday and closing basis.
It was a relatively quiet day for data, leaving traders to digest the latest, and somewhat mixed, comments from Federal Reserve officials. After Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren's rather hawkish comments this morning, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart -- who is due to retire from his post next month -- said he believes the Fed may only need to raise interest rates twice in 2017.
Continue reading for more on today's market, including:
- What the first 5 days of trading signal for 2017 .
- The CEO of this Chinese firm just had a "great" meeting with Donald Trump .
- Behind a $1.5 million options bet on Facebook Inc ( FB ) record highs.
- Plus ... 3 healthcare stocks on the move, the biotech ETF on a hot streak, and 2 bank stocks in the options spotlight.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA- 19,887.38) slid 76.4 points, or 0.4%, with energy stock Exxon Mobil Corporation ( XOM ) leading 22 of the 30 blue chips lower on a 1.6% drop. Drugmaker Merck & Co., Inc. ( MRK ) led the eight gainers, adding 1.4%.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,268.90) slid 8.1 points, or 0.4%, but the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 5,531.82) bucked the bearish trend, tacking on 10.8 points, or 0.2%, for its highest finish on record. Earlier, the COMP hit an all-time peak of 5,541.07.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 11.56) added 0.2 point, or 2.1%, for the day.
5 Items on Our Radar Today
With questions still looming regarding how closely connected President-elect Donald Trump will remain to his personal businesses, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren joined her fellow party members in introducing a bill that would force the incoming president to "divest all interests that create financial conflicts of interest placing those assets in a true blind trust." Trump is expected to give a press conference regarding just such issues later this week. ( CNBC )
Abbott Laboratories ( ABT ) reported today that it has begun releasing updates for its recently acquired St. Jude heart devices, providing extra cybersecurity measures , and allowing doctors to track the performance of devices. The updates come five months after the U.S. government began investigating claims these devices could be vulnerable to cyber hacks that put patients at risk. ( Reuters )
- The news sending these 3 healthcare stocks sharply higher.
- Option bulls bombarded SPDR S&P Biotech (ETF) ( XBI ) as the ETF finished its fifth straight day in the black.
- How pre-earnings options traders have been lining up on 2 booming bank stocks .
Data courtesy ofTrade-Alert
Crude oil spent the session sliding, as traders digested reports that output from Iraq's southern Basra ports hit a record high in December, reigniting worries that the country may not be complying with agreed-upon production cuts. Crude for February delivery dropped $2.03, or 3.8%, to settle at $51.96 per barrel -- a three-week low.
Gold prices stair-stepped higher throughout the day, as the strength of the U.S. dollar steadied. Tempered expectations ahead of President-elect Trump's upcoming inauguration later this month also helped boost the commodity, with February gold futures tacking on $11.50, or 1%, to finish the day at a nearly six-week high of $1,184.90 an ounce.