The first full week of 2015 got off to a terrible start, with the major stock indexes getting crushed and the price of oil crashing to new lows.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,501.6, -331.3, (-1.86%)
- S&P 500: 2,020.6, -37.6, (-1.83%)
- Nasdaq: 4,652.6, -74.2, (-1.57%)
And now, the top stories on Monday:
1. As was the case for the last few months of 2014, 2015 started with just one thing at the top of investors’ minds: the price of oil. On Monday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil broke below $US50 for the first time since April 2009. Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, also briefly cracked $US53 a barrel. The price of oil just can’t seem to find a bottom, and as we look towards the rest of the year, we highlight comments made by DoubleLine’s Jeff Gundlach — who nailed the interest rate call in 2014 — and said in a December webcast that if oil gets to $US40 a barrel, “something is very wrong with the world.” We’re still $US10/barrel away from that.
2. On the whole, Wall Street analysts agree on one thing for the stock market this year: it is going higher. In a note on Monday, Goldman Sachs, one of the most conservative firms on Wall Street for 2015, said that its sentiment index was at the highest possible level, indicating a high probability of weakness for stocks over the next six weeks. Additionally, Goldman said that stocks would fall, then rise to 2,150, then fall again to finish the year at its target price of 2,100.
3. On Monday, we also got monthly auto sales data for December that showed US sales slowed to an annualized pace of 16.8 million vehicles in 2014’s final month, though it was still a solid month for auto sales overall. And Business Insider’s Matt DeBord noted that while several months of annualized sales over 16 million units may have jaded us to good news, 2014 was one of the most important years ever for the auto industry.
4. Weakness was broad-based in the stock market on Monday, but the market’s biggest company, Apple, really took it on the chin, falling more than 3% as the tech giant has quietly had a rough couple weeks, falling more than 11% since the beginning of December after hitting all-time highs late last fall.
5. Herbalife stock also got hammered, falling as much as 13% on Monday. There was no obvious news related to the decline, but this does add to the good news for Bill Ackman, the hedge fund manager who has a $US1 billion short position on the multi-level marketing firm and had a monster 2014.
6. The number of oil rigs in operation in the US fell again last week, with active oil rigs declining by 17 and oil and gas rigs falling by 29, according to Baker Hughes. For the second week in a row, the biggest decline came from Texas, which saw 12 rigs shutter production last week after a 16 rig decline last week.
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