STOCKS GO NOWHERE, BIOTECHS GET CRUSHED: Here's what you need to know

Stocks traded relatively little changed for much of the session. The iShares Nasdaq biotechnology ETF sold off again, falling as much as 6% and approaching its biggest one-day drop since August 2011.

First, the scoreboard,

  • Dow: 16,811.94, +35.51, (0.21%)
  • S&P 500: 1,981.58, -5.47, (-0.28%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,750.42, -30.85, (-0.65%)

And now, the top stories on Tuesday:

  1. Crude oil prices rallied 5%. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures in New York rose to as high as $US48.72 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rallied to $US52. There were two major oil-related headlines: According to Reuters, OPEC secretary-general Abdullah al-badri said the 12-member oil group should collaborate with non-members to deal with the market’s oversupply. And, the Energy Information Administration’s latest short-term energy outlook estimated that US oil production fell by 120,000 barrels in September.
  2. The blue-chip Dow was elevated by DuPont shares, which jumped as much as 11%, following Monday’s news of the CEO’s resignation and a downgraded earnings forecast. CEO Ellen Kullman will reitire on October 16 after nearly three decades with DuPont, the company said. Deutsche Bank analysts say the likelihood that the agricultural giant will be broken up into two companies “has increased substantially.” There had been pressure from hedge fund Trian to split the company.
  3. The US trade deficit rose to $US48.3 billion in August. According to the Department of Commerce, the excess of imports over exports was driven by consumer goods. The deficit with China swelled by $US4.2 bullion to $US32.9 billion, the highest for any country. Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna wrote to clients the drag of a strong dollar on exports is set to continue, and the firm lowered its estimates for third- and fourth-quarter gross domestic product estimates.
  4. Freeport-McMoRan may abandon the oil and gas space. In a release, the company said it was considering spinning off the businesses to shareholders to focus on its core copper unit. It also announced a downsizing of its board, to nine members from 16. Copper and crude oil prices have fallen to at least six-year lows this year. Freeport-McMoRan also aims to reduce its debt level and fund its core business with its own resources.
  5. The International Monetary Fund cut its outlook for global growth for a second time this year. The IMF sees the world economy growing 3.1% this year (2.9% prior) and 3.6% (3.2% prior) in 2016.”The distribution of risks to global growth remains tilted to the downside,” the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook, citing the impact of volatile commodity prices and China’s economy. It expects the US economy to grow 2.6% in 2015 and 2.8% next year.

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