STOCKS FALL: Here's What You Need To Know

Christmas choir chorusREUTERS/Suzanne PlunkettChoristers of St Paul’s Cathedral practice in the choir stalls of the cathedral in the City of London, December 9, 2013.

Stocks pulled back a bit today on little news.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 15,973.1 (-52.4, -0.3%)

  • S&P 500: 1,802.6 (-5.7, -0.3%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,060.4 (-8.2, -0.2%)

And now the top stories:

  • Regulators approved the Volcker rule, which restricts FDIC-insured banks from engaging in proprietary trading. This has been considered one of the more harsh financial reforms in the wake of the credit crisis. For the most part, however, Wall Street has already scaled back these operations in anticipation of the new restrictions.
  • GM said it would name executive Mary Barra as its first ever female CEO. Just yesterday, the Treasury announced that it had sold the rest of its stake in the once troubled automaker.
  • The NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index climbed to 92.5 in November from 91.6 in October. “This improvement was driven largely by an uptick in the net percentage of respondents planning to increase employment in the next three months, which rose 4pp to 9%,” noted Barclays’ Cooper Howes. “Over half of all surveyed business owners reported hiring or trying to hire in the past three months, the strongest reading since 2007, and there was continued evidence of a reduction in labour market slack; 44% of firms hiring or trying to hire reported few or no qualified applicants and 23% of respondents had job openings that they could not fill in the current period.”
  • “There is also a hint that employers are getting an inkling of what Obamacare might mean for labour costs, concern about the cost and availability of insurance bumped up 3 percentage points after a long period of no real change,” said the NFIB’s Bill Dunkelberg. “Small-business owners who provide health insurance may soon find that their plans ‘unacceptable’ to Obamacare and be obliged to either pay more for the coverage or abandon it and pay the benefit in cash. This will be a major source of angst and uncertainty in 2014.”
  • According to the latest Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey (JOLTS), U.S. companies had 3.925 million job openings in October, which was up from 3.883 million in September. This is the biggest number in over five years. “While most measures of the labour market have continued to improve on a cyclical basis, it is clear that this labour market remains different than in the past,” said Wells Fargo’s John Silvia. “For those without the right skill2s.5or in the wrong location, 3.5

    spells of unemployment remain painfully long, averaging 37.2 weeks. Many others have given up looking for work all together, evidenced by the 35-year low in the labour force participation rate.”

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