OIL HITS NEW LOWS: Here's what you need to know

Oil broke to a new a 12-year low on Tuesday, cracking $30 a barrel for the first time since December 2003.

Stocks, however, rallied into the close to mark the second straight day that the Dow and S&P 500 closed higher.

The major averages are still down about 5% this year.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 16,525, +127, (+0.8%)
  • S&P 500: 1,940, +16, (+0.8%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,690, +52, (+1.1%)
  • WTI crude oil: $30.80, -1.9%

And now, the top stories on Tuesday:

  1. Oil fell. Again. Because that’s what oil does, it seems. On Monday we asked if oil was going to go to $0. The answer, of course, is no. But after cracking $30 a barrel oil is getting ever closer to hitting the kinds of targets strategists threw out there months ago that made most people say, “Yeah, ok, now that is crazy.” Things like $20 oil, for example. Gary Shilling’s $10 oil is still sitting out there, too. At this point anything seems possible.
  2. Tuesday is also a Gundlach day, and so to get ready we reminded readers that he said there would be major problems in the world — geopolitically, that is — if oil fell to $40. It’s not all that controversial to say that the global situation is more unstable today than it was back in December 2014 when Gundlach first made this call, but perhaps you’d expect things to be worse. But who really knows. What we know is that calling for oil to go lower was a good call. Gundlach is expected to make more of them in a webcast on Tuesday afternoon.
  3. Rand Paul’s “Audit the Fed” bill official failed. Notably, Paul, Marco Rubio, and Bernie Sanders — the three presidential candidates who also serve as Senators — voted “Yes.” Of course if you ask former Fed chair Ben Bernanke about the bill it wasn’t really about auditing the Fed at all, but making Congress a more integral part of formulating monetary policy. Bernanke didn’t think was a good idea.
  4. In economic news, the latest JOLTS report, or Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey, showed that in November there were 5.43 million jobs available in the US, up from 5.35 million back in October. This series, which was among the most exciting over the last few years as openings in the economy indicated what seemed to many to be a clear tightening of labour market conditions, has sort of leveled off in recent months.
  5. 2016 might be bad year for Apple. Almost every major Wall Street analyst now expects iPhone sales to decline year-over-year with Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster — one of the most bullish Apple folks around — cutting his outlook in a note on Tuesday morning. Apple shares gained about 1% to close just below $100 on Tuesday.
  6. It was a big day for sell side research. (I mean, on a strictly volume basis they almost all are.) RBS kicked things off overnight as the firm’s year-ahead note got play from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Telegraph who noted that RBS strategist Andrew Roberts more or less advised that clients think about selling everything except “high-quality bonds.” So you can keep your Treasuries, more or less, which means sell everything but savings accounts and things that act like savings. It’s quite a call and we’re guessing there’s more to say about this.
  7. A note out of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, additionally, got some notice here at Business Insider as Michael Contopoulos argued his team’s case for being so bearish on high-yield bonds. “It is our fear that many of the signs we see in high yield ultimately foreshadows further economic and risk asset malaise in 2016 and 2017,” BAML wrote. Matt Turner has the details here.
  8. Bank of America also had a discussion about earnings, adjusted earnings, what it means to run a “normal” business, and what special items are actually special. You might say this is about accounting theory or whatever, but it’s really about what it means to be an investor that values a business for reasons that might be specific but also potentially not.

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