Stocks closed slightly lower on Monday, in a mixed session that saw the major indexes fall from the highs of the day in afternoon trading.
But the interesting action today was in commodities, as gold, silver, and copper all sold off amid a dollar rally, and crude oil rebounded by $US2 a barrel within a few minutes.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,789.77, -34.04, (-0.19%)
- S&P 500: 2,086.01, -3.16, (-0.15%)
- Nasdaq: 5,102.19, -2.73, (-0.05%)
And now, Monday’s top stories:
- It was a painful day for metals. Copper futures in New York fell to as low as $US200 for the first time in six years. Copper has been in a down streak for several months, partly amid concerns about weakening Chinese demand. It fell for a 14th day today, and recorded its biggest two-week loss since October 2011 according to Bloomberg. Gold fell about 1%, or $US8.80. Meanwhile, the US dollar index jumped to an eight-month high of 100.
- Crude oil made a big comeback in the morning. After being down about 2%, near $US40 per barrel, crude surged all the way back to as high as $US42.74. Saudi Arabia’s official news agency released a statement saying the government was prepared to cooperate with other oil producers to ensure a stable market. Saudi Arabian and other OPEC-member oil has flooded the market in a bid to maintain market share from rivals including US shale producers.
- Pfizer and Allergan announced a merger that would create the world’s largest drug maker. Allergan shareholders will receive $US363.63 worth of Pfizer stock; for each Allergan share, investors will get 11.3 shares of the new company. The renamed Pfizer Plc will be worth $US160 billion, combined under Allergan Plc. It will be domiciled in Ireland, allowing the company to dodge comparatively high US tax rates. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump told Business Insider that it was “disgusting” the companies would leave the US “with a tremendous loss of jobs”.
- In economic data, Markit’s US manufacturing purchasing manager’s index (PMI) dropped to a two-year low of 52.6 in November, according to a preliminary reading. Barclays economists said the report “shows broad softness across US manufacturing activity and brings the Markit series closer in line with the ISM manufacturing index, which has indicated stagnant conditions for the past several months.” Markit once again cited slow global economic growth and the strong dollar as reasons for the weakness.
- Existing home sales fell more than forecast in October, by 3.4% at an annual rate of 5.36 million. The National Association of Realtors’ Lawrence Yun said low inventories and “affordability issues” contributed to the decline, which followed several strong months. The median existing-home price was $US219,600 at the end of October.
- GameStop shares fell by as much as 11% in morning trade, recouping some losses through the session, after the electronics retailer reported weaker-than-expected third-quarter results. Sales of new video game hardware fell 20%, while software fell 9%. Net sales dropped 3.6% to $US2.02 billion ($US2.14 billion expected), while adjusted earnings per share was $US0.54 ($US0.59 forecast). The company maintained its earnings-per-share forecast for the full year in anticipation of “solid” new video-game and collectibles sales.
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