Stocks got crushed and oil tanked on Wednesday, as the Dow fell more than 200 points and all of the major stock indexes lost more than 1.5% while oil made fresh multi-year lows.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,533.1, -268, (-1.5%)
- S&P 500: 2,026.1, -33.7, (-1.6%)
- Nasdaq: 4,684, -82.4, (-1.7%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
1. Stocks took a beating. After falling early in the day on Tuesday and then turning it around, stocks started the day lower and took a turn for the worst in the afternoon, with the Dow losing as much as 285 points at one point. Stocks attempted to stage a rally in the last hour of trade, before falling back to session lows into the close.
2. Oil was again the lead story in the markets, as WTI and Brent crude both made fresh lows, with WTI breaking below $US61 a barrel and Brent falling below $US65 a barrel for the first time since 2009. At one point on Wednesday, WTI was down more than 5%. There were a number of bad headlines for oil on Wednesday, with OPEC’s latest report showing a reduction in demand expectations for 2015, the US EIA’s latest status report showing an unexpected increase in inventories last week, and comments from Saudi Arabian oil minister Ali Al-Naimi that suggested a change in tone out of OPEC.
3. In an afternoon email, NYSE floor governor Rich Barry noted that on the floor of the NYSE, all traders can talk about is oil. “While the sell-off in crude has been a drubbing of historic proportions, we do not think it is over yet.,” Barry wrote. “Look for more pain and a little more bloodletting before we see a real bottom in place. Or, to quote one esteemed market-player in expressing his views on commodity prices, ‘The number of human beings in the history of mankind who could consistently and accurately predict future commodity prices is Zero.'”
4. And while the oil and equity markets were falling sharply on Wednesday, the VIX, or volatility index spiked. The VIX climbed to nearly 20, a more than 20% rise on Wednesday bringing the measure’s gains to almost 50% since Friday, when it was trading closer to 11. Long-dated US treasury bonds also rallied on Wednesday, with the 10-year falling back below 2.2% to as low as 2.16%, and the 30-year extending its gains to as low as 2.82%.
5. On Tuesday, BlackRock released its 2015 investment outlook, and the firm is looking for a few main themes next year: volatility and standout US growth.
6. It was an ugly day overall for oil & gas stocks with the some of big losers including Hess, Marathon Oil, Williams, Devon Energy, and Noble Energy, which all fell more than 4%. Some of the other notable S&P 500 losers were Yum! Brands, which last night said sales in China still continue to recover at a slower pace than expected.
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