Dow Jones Industrial Average Surrenders Triple-Digit Lead; 'Fear Gauge' Spikes

Crude closed higher for its first daily win in five sessions

Alex Eppstein
Dec 16, 2014 at 4:20 PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) experienced another volatile session today, trading in a nearly 360-point range before settling near session lows. Looking more closely, stocks headed south out of the gate amid ongoing troubles in Russia, but upward moves by a pair of blue-chip components led the Dow to a triple-digit gain by midday. Nevertheless, the pendulum ultimately swung back in the bears' favor in a big way, as stocks settled decisively south of breakeven. Meanwhile, crude ended its streak of four straight losing sessions. Looking ahead, traders are eagerly awaiting the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy statement, which hits the Street tomorrow afternoon.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 17,068.87) skidded in the final hours of trading to close nearly 112 points, or 0.7%, lower. Twenty-three of the Dow's 30 components finished with a loss, led by Microsoft Corporation's (NASDAQ:MSFT) 3.2% drop. Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) was the top-performing Dow component once again, tacking on 1.8%.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,972.74) settled 16.9 points, or 0.9%, south of breakeven, due to eleventh-hour selling pressure. Worse yet, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,547.83) shed 57.3 points, or 1.2%.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 23.57) had a huge day, adding 3.2 points, or 15.4%, for its highest daily close since Oct. 16.

CLOSING SUMMARY – INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY – NYSE AND NASDAQ

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. U.S. housing starts unexpectedly declined in November, but remained above a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1 million units, according to the Commerce Department. Permits likewise dropped 5.2%, representing the biggest single-month decline since January. (Reuters, via CNBC)
  2. AAPL responded to ongoing fluctuations in the ruble by shuttering its online store in Russia. "Our online store in Russia is currently unavailable while we review pricing," an AAPL spokesperson said, while apologizing for the inconvenience. (Bloomberg)
  3. Exxon Mobil Corporation's (NYSE:XOM) bounce off an annual low didn't go unnoticed by option bulls.
  4. Three large-cap stocks that drew the ire of analysts.
  5. A nearly 11-year high had traders paying a stiff premium for upside bets on this semiconductor developer.
EARNINGS

For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.

STOCKS – NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITY

STOCKS – NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

Commodities:

Following a volatile session, crude found itself slightly higher, snapping a streak of four consecutive losing sessions. By day's end, January-dated oil was up 2 cents, or less than 0.1%, to rest at $55.93 per barrel.

Gold pared early gains to settle lower, as expectations grew for a potentially hawkish policy statement from the FOMC tomorrow. By the close, the February-dated contract was down $13.40, or 1.1%, at $1,194.30 per ounce.


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