Stocks did nothing on Thursday as markets were only open for a half day ahead of Christmas and the long weekend.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,555, -47, (-0.3%)
- S&P 500: 2,062, -2, (-0.1%)
- Nasdaq: 5,050, +4, (+0.1%)
And now, the top stories on Thursday:
- Initial jobless claims continue to impress. On Thursday the latest report on initial jobless claims showed claims fell to 267,000 last week, down from the prior week’s 272,000 and in keeping with the general strength of the reading which has been among the strongest in the economy over the last year.
- The tick-tocks from inside Third Avenue, the mutual fund company that sent a shiver through the markets after halting redemptions from its Focused Credit Fund earlier this month, are rolling in. The Wall Street Journal published late Wednesday with excellent details including an alleged cell phone toss by former CEO David Barse at a lieutenant. The Journal’s Greg Zuckerman and Matt Wirz also gave a timeline for Barse’s departure, which was abrupt and shocking and more or less left the Third Avenue staff stunned. As one security guard told the Journal, “It was a fiasco.”
- FedEx is going to play Santa Claus this year and deliver gifts on Christmas, according to Bloomberg. FedEx said in an emailed statement that it was operating with “slight delays” on Christmas Eve morning though the location of these slowdowns was unknown. This, of course, is the latest in the ongoing battle between Amazon and third-party delivery partners that of course do their darnedest to accommodate the inevitable influx of orders from panicked Christmas shoppers in the days leading up to the holiday.
- Earlier this week The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is looking to “ease ties” with UPS as the cost of shipping for the e-commerce giant continues to creep upwards. Readers of this newsletter know that this is a theme we’re particularly interested in, looking last week at reports Amazon is going to lease cargo planes from Boeing. So Amazon doesn’t want to pay more for UPS to deliver stuff and FedEx is bogged down by the volume of packages it’s delivering during the holidays. You’d think the end play here is for Amazon to just take the whole thing in-house. Or something close. But who knows. And so of course we’ll remind you: the more mature the internet economy gets, the more it resembles the real one.
- A quick note on the stock market: Thursday marks the actual start of the “Santa Claus rally,” which technically encompasses the final 5 trading days of the year in which the S&P 500 has moved higher about 78% of the time since 1950.
- And looking a bit further ahead, David Kostin at Goldman Sachs wrote in a recent note to clients that corporate buyback activity slows in January. For a long-term investor, of course, one month’s average corporate buyback activity is immaterial. But for the traders out there it’s just something to keep in mind as we head into the new year.
- REMINDER: The stock market is closed on Friday. Have a great weekend and a Merry Christmas!