Stocks fell for the fifth straight day on Tuesday, though the major equity indexes finished off their worst levels, as oil crashed again with the price of WTI and Brent crude falling more than 4%.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,371.3, -130.3, (-0.7%)
- S&P 500: 2,002.6, -18, (-0.9%)
- Nasdaq: 4,592.7, -59.8, (-1.3%)
And now, the top stories on Tuesday:
1. Oil, oil, oil. On Tuesday, oil hit new lows again, with West Texas Intermediate crude trading below $US48 a barrel for the first time since April 2009. Overnight, WTI broke $US49 after breaking $US50 for the first time on Monday as the commodity cannot catch a bid. Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, encroached on $US50 a barrel and broke below $US51 for the first time since the spring of 2009.
2. Bonds were also in rally mode around the world, the the yield on US 10-year Treasury bonds falling to the lowest since the October 15 “flash crash” while German 10-year bunds hit records lows of 0.44%. Business Insider’s Sam Ro also highlighted commentary from Citi’s Steven Englander, who noted that the average yield of 10-year G3 bonds — that is government bonds from the US, UK, and Japan — was below 1% for the first time ever. Englander said it’s striking this decline in yields isn’t happening during the panic phase of a crisis, and reflects that investors think we are going nowhere for a long time.
3. We also got some less-than-stellar economic data Tuesday morning, with two service sector reports showing slowing expansion in that sector and factory orders that disappointed. Markit’s services PMI reading fell to 53.3, a 10-month low, while ISM’s non-manufacturing PMI slipped to a six-month low of 56.2. In its release, Markit’s Chris Williamson said that the US economy lost “significant growth momentum at the close of the year,” and noted that the employment component of Markit’s report suggests payroll growth of below 200,000 in the US. The December jobs report is set for release on Friday. The latest data on factory orders also showed orders fell 0.7% month-on-month in November, the same decline seen in October and worse than expectations for a 0.5% retreat.
4. With a late rally, the S&P 500 avoided doing something it has only done in 2000 and 2008, which is decline 3% in the first three days of a trading year. This afternoon near session lows, the S&P 500 was on pace for the worst three-day start ever, but a late recovery avoided this distinction.
5. It has been a terrible start to 2015 for Tesla, which has seen shares decline 5% to start the year after losing some steam in the second of 2014. But as Business Insider’s Matt DeBord notes, the stock is still up better than 1,000% from its 2010 IPO.
6. Noted bond investor Bill Gross released his latest investment outlook on Tuesday, and his view for the market this year isn’t all that encouraging. “The good times are over,” Gross wrote, predicting that investors would see a lot of minus signs in from of returns for many asset classes this year.
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