Stocks gained ground on Friday to finish a wild week that saw the S&P 500 gain almost 100 points from the close of trade Tuesday to the close on Friday. Late in the day on Friday, the S&P 500 peaked above its all-time closing high, but closed off this level, though each of the three major US indexes gained more than 2% on the week.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,804.8. +26.6, (+0.1%)
- S&P 500: 2,070.6, +9.4, (+0.4%)
- Nasdaq: 4,765.4, +17, (+0.4%)
And now, the top stories on Friday:
1. Stocks rose for the third straight day and the S&P 500 went just below an all-time high on Friday. In an email on Friday afternoon, the NYSE’s Rich Barry captured the mood on the exchange floor, writing: “After a whopping 4.5% rally in just two days – the best 2-day rally in over three years – what can the market possibly do for an encore?! Finish out the last full week of the year with a bang? Set a single-day volume record in light of today’s quad-witch/index re-balancings?? At this point, anything is possible, but we still believe this market has some room to go higher.” And higher the market went.
2. Friday also marked a “quadruple witching,” as expirations for stock index options, stock index futures, single stock options, and single-stock futures all expired on Friday. As a result, volume was heavy on the NYSE, with Barry noting that volume on Friday was 232% higher than its three-month average.
3. Oil rallied on Friday, with West Texas Intermediate crude futures gaining more than 5% at one point to nearly $US59 a barrel. The rally in oil came as the commodity remains at the center of the market’s attention. The number of US oil rigs in operation, however, declined again last week, according to the latest report from Baker Hughes. Baker Hughes said that US rigs in operation fell by 18 to 1,875 after last week showed that 27 rigs fell out of operation, which was the biggest weekly drop in almost two years.
4. And while things calmed down a bit in US markets, the global economy, particularly for countries tied to oil, remains unsettled. On Friday, the Nigerian central bank imposed capital controls, limiting currency dealers in the country from depositing funds overnight, preventing after-hours trading and bets placed for or against a single currency.
5. The biggest headlines on Friday were away from the stock market, as the FBI officially blamed North Korea for the Sony hack that has lead, among other things, to Sony cancelling the premier of the movie “The Interview.” In a news conference on Friday, president Obama said the hack “caused a lot of damage, and we will respond.” Business Insider’s Military & Defence staff has the breakdown of the various options the White House now must weigh.