It was a busy day.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,164.9, -251.9, (-1.4%)
- S&P 500: 1,995.0, -26.2, (-1.3%)
- Nasdaq: 4,635.2, -48.1, (-1.0%)
And now the, top stories:
1. A tiny NYC burger chain called Shake Shack was a hot story today. After pricing at $US21 late Thursday, SHAK opened on the New York Stock Exchange at $US47, an eye-popping 123% gain for the company’s newest investors. The stock traded near that high for most of the day and closed at $US45.90.
2. GDP growth slowed to 2.6% in Q4 from 5.0% in Q3. This was a bit weaker than the 3.0% expected by economists. “The undershoot reflects weak capex, with spending on business equipment down 1.9%, and net foreign trade, which subtracted 1.0 percentage points, ” Pantheon Macroeconomics’ Ian Shepherdson said.
3. According to the GDP report, personal consumption surged 4.3%, which was much stronger than the 4.0% expected. “We believe this is consistent with the anticipated moderation in growth momentum heading into 2015 and look for strong domestic consumption to continue supporting growth momentum in the coming quarters even as investment suffers due to falling oil prices,” TD Securities Gennadiy Goldberg said.
4. Even wages are showing some signs of life. The employment cost index climbed by 0.6% in Q4. This reflected a 2.2% year-over-year growth rate. “The employment costs index has been posting significant increases for three consecutive quarters now and we view this as consistent with labour markets improvement, a declining unemployment rate and diminishing slack,” Barclays’ Blerina Uruçi said. “We expect the economy to expand at a healthy rate and for the unemployment rate to continue falling. As a result, we expect wage growth to rise gradually this year reflecting continued labour markets improvement.”
5. The positive consumer spending message of Q4 appears to be spilling into 2015. The University of Michigan’s final index of consumer sentiment in January was 98.1, up from 93.6 in December. “Consumers judged prospects for the national economy as the best in a decade, with half of all consumers expecting the economic expansion will continue for another five years,” said Richard Curtin, the survey’s director. Here’s BNP Paribas’ Bricklin Dwyer: “Consumers are loving life … The level of consumer sentiment, both the University of Michigan and Conference board measures support our view that consumer spending will kick the year off on a robust foot after the drop in energy prices left consumers’ wallets full.”
6. Oil prices went nuts late Friday. Just before 2:30 p.m. ET, WTI crude touched a high of $US48.35 per barrel, up 8.7% from Thursday’s close. Brent crude surged 9.5% to a high of $US53.08 per barrel. Baker Hughes reported that the number of oil and gas rigs operating in North America fell by 128, or 6.2%, to 1,937 during the week ending January 30, 2015. US rigs in operation fell by 90 to 1,543 rigs.