Stock Market News for December 11, 2015

Benchmarks snapped a three-day losing streak to end in the green on Thursday as investors bought beaten-down energy shares. Gains in energy shares came in despite continuous decline in oil prices . U.S. crude oil prices settled below $37 a barrel on Thursday for the first time since 2009. OPEC increased its oil production in November to its highest level since 2012, which eventually dragged oil prices down.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.5% to close at 17,574.75. The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) advanced 0.2% to close at 2,052.23. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 5,045.17, increasing 0.4%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) declined 1.4% to settle at 19.34. A total of around 3.6 billion shares were traded on Thursday on the NYSE. Decliners outpaced advancing stocks on the NYSE. For 49% stocks that declined, 48% advanced.

Oil prices continued to decline on Thursday following the Organization of the Petroleum Countries' (OPEC) report that showed the group raised its production level in November to its highest monthly level in three years. In November, total production increased by 230,100 barrels a day from October, to 31.695 million barrels a day, the highest since Apr 2012. The increase in output levels was mainly driven by increase in production by Iraq.

Last month, Iraq's output increased by 247,500 barrels a day to 4.307 million barrels a day. Iraq's output this year climbed by around 500,000 barrels a day. Iraq has been increasing its production levels to boost the country's economy which has been impacted by a conflict with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Price of WTI crude oil dropped 1.1% to $36.76 a barrel, its lowest settlement price since Feb 2009. Additionally, price of Brent crude oil declined 0.9% to $39.73 a barrel.

However, investors decided to buy beaten-down stocks on Thursday, which helped energy shares end in the green. Gains in energy shares also helped key indexes end with modest gains.

The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) gained 0.6%, the second highest among the S&P 500 sectors. Dow components Exxon Mobil Corporation ( XOM ) and Chevron Corporation ( CVX ) advanced 0.1% and 1.9%, respectively. Other key stocks from the energy sector such as Occidental Petroleum Corporation ( OXY ), ConocoPhillips ( COP ) and Kinder Morgan, Inc. ( KMI ) increased 0.7%, 1.6% and 1.2%, respectively.

Separately, the Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV) advanced 0.8% and was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 sectors. Key stocks from the sector including Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ ), Pfizer Inc. ( PFE ), Merck & Co. Inc. ( MRK ), Amgen Inc. ( AMGN ) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company ( BMY ) increased 0.5%, 0.2%, 1.7%, 1.1% and 0.6%, respectively.

Meanwhile, investors are looking forward to the Federal Reserve's meeting to be held on Dec 15-16. The Fed is widely expected to hike rates during its two-day policy meeting. Utility stocks took a beating since ultra-low interest rates have boosted such stocks in recent years.

The Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) declined 1.7%, the biggest loser among the S&P 500 sectors. Key stocks from the sector including NextEra Energy, Inc. ( NEE ), PPL Corporation ( PPL ), Duke Energy Corporation ( DUK ), Edison International ( EIX ) and Southern Company ( SO ) decreased 1.2%, 1.5%, 1.7%, 0.6% and 1.4%, respectively. Overall, 9 out of 12 sectors of the S&P 500 ended in the green.

In economic news, the U.S Department of Labor reported that seasonally adjusted initial claims increased 13,000 to 282,000 in the week ending Dec 5. The rise compared unfavorably with the consensus estimate of initial claims increasing to 270,000. The 4-week moving average also increased 1,500 from previous week's level to 270,750.

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EXXON MOBIL CRP (XOM): Free Stock Analysis Report

CHEVRON CORP (CVX): Free Stock Analysis Report

OCCIDENTAL PET (OXY): Free Stock Analysis Report

CONOCOPHILLIPS (COP): Free Stock Analysis Report

KINDER MORGAN (KMI): Free Stock Analysis Report

JOHNSON & JOHNS (JNJ): Free Stock Analysis Report

PFIZER INC (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report

MERCK & CO INC (MRK): Free Stock Analysis Report

AMGEN INC (AMGN): Free Stock Analysis Report

BRISTOL-MYERS (BMY): Free Stock Analysis Report

NEXTERA ENERGY (NEE): Free Stock Analysis Report

PPL CORP (PPL): Free Stock Analysis Report

DUKE ENERGY CP (DUK): Free Stock Analysis Report

EDISON INTL (EIX): Free Stock Analysis Report

SOUTHERN CO (SO): Free Stock Analysis Report

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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.

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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