The stock markets kicked off the holiday-shortened week with a modest rally.
There were no major economic reports released on Monday to move markets. But following two consecutive down days, maybe they were just due for a rally.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,239.4, +110.8, (+0.6%)
- S&P 500: 2,020.3, +14.8, (+0.7%)
- Nasdaq: 4,966.4, +43.4, (+0.8%)
And now, the top stories on Monday:
- Oil prices continue to tumble. Brent crude fell to as low as $36.04 per barrel, the lowest level since July 2004. WTI crude fell to as low as $33.98, the lowest level since February 2009. This comes as the market struggles to align oversupply with lacklustre demand. On Friday, Baker Hughes reported that the tally of active oil rigs in the US increased for the first time in five weeks, jumping 17 to 541.
- Gasoline prices in the US are at a 6-year low. For consumers, that’s one of the benefits of the low price of oil, which is what gasoline is refined from. As of the week ending December 14, that average price for regular gasoline was $1.953 per gallon. “Retailers are hoping lower gas prices just in time for the holidays will translate into more robust holiday shopping,” Stifel economist Lindsey Piegza said. “Of course, as of late, low gas prices have done little to spark a marked improvement in consumption, supporting the current trend but not necessarily adding momentum.” Indeed, consumption has been lacklustre as many consumers have been opting to save.
- Following the last two days of selling in the stock market, traders didn’t seem all that surprised to see a rally today. If anything, they were surprised the rally wasn’t stronger. Here’s NYSE Floor Governor Rich Barry: “Is this all they got?! You’d think we would get a better bounce than this after the Dow lost close to 700 points over the past two sessions! Santa can’t get to Wall Street soon enough. We came into today looking for a bigger rebound for the following reasons: 1- stocks are way oversold, technically; and 2- we are in a seasonally strong period, tax loss selling historically abates at this time of the year, and many money managers were underweight stocks ahead of the Fed last week. We like them here…”
- Some strategists think we’re due for more than just a one- or two-day snap back. “We do not believe that the selling will preclude some kind of a Santa Claus rally if only to the end of the year,” Oppenheimer’s John Stoltzfus said on Monday. “Our 2015 year-end target for the S&P 500, which we initiated in November of 2014, remains at 2,311 while being placed under review in consideration of what the potential for a closing year-end rally is in light of seasonal historical precedence and in context of the limited number of trading days left in the year.”
- The Santa Claus rally is the stock market rally often observed between Christmas and New Years. According to PNC’s William Stone, Santa Claus has delivered rallies in 34 of the past 45 years. And the average cumulative return is 1.4%.
- Meanwhile, things just keep getting worse for Chipotle Mexican Grill. “5 ill people have been identified in Kansas (1), North Dakota (1), and Oklahoma (3),” the CDC said in a statement. “The illnesses started on dates ranging from November 18, 2015 to November 26, 2015. All five (100%) reported eating at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in the week before illness started.” This follows a series of reports of diners across several states falling ill after eating at the restaurant.
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