Dow Jones Industrial Average Loses the Day, Wins the Year

Crude oil gave up an astounding 46% in 2014

Dec 31, 2014 at 4:22 PM
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The final session of 2014 started on a high note for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI), as the index flirted with a 60-point gain at its intraday peak. However, things took a turn for the worse shortly after midday, as the blue-chip barometer and its peers turned tail amid light volume and a mixed bag of economic reports. By the close, the Dow had backpedaled even further from the 18,000 marker, yet the index -- along with the S&P 500 Index (SPX) -- locked in a healthy annual return. The same can't be said for crude oil futures, however, as black gold steepened its second-half slide to wrap up its worst year since 2008.

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

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 17,823.07) settled near a session low, surrendering 160 points, or 0.9%. Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) were the lone blue chips to end higher, adding 0.7% and 0.2%, respectively. Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) paced the 28 losers, shedding 1.9%. While the Dow essentially called December a wash, the index gained 7.5% on the year.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,058.90) also succumbed to afternoon selling pressure, swallowing a loss of 21.5 points, or 1%, bringing its monthly loss to 0.4%. Likewise, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,736.05) fell 41.4 points, or 0.9%, to end December down 1.2%. For the year, however, the S&P and Nasdaq rallied 11.4% and 13.4%, respectively.

Amid a risk-off backdrop, the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 19.20) skyrocketed 3.3 points, or 20.6%, to mark its loftiest settlement since Dec. 17. For December, the "fear gauge" soared 44%, and ended 2014 about 40% higher.

CLOSING SUMMARY – INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY – NYSE AND NASDAQ

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. First-time jobless claims rose by 17,000 to 298,000 last week, landing at their highest point since Thanksgiving. Economists were calling for initial claims to rise to a slimmer 290,000. Continuing claims, however, remain near 14-year lows. (MarketWatch)
  2. The National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index edged 0.8% higher in November, marking a year-over-year increase of 4.1% -- the largest annual gain since August 2013. Meanwhile, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.87% last week, compared to 3.83% a week prior, according to Freddie Mac. (CNBC; MarketWatch)
  3. Eleventh-hour option traders circled GoPro Inc (NASDAQ:GPRO) ahead of the holiday.
  4. Our own Josh Selway offered some down-to-earth advice for the TWTR power players.
  5. M&A buzz prompted heavier-than-usual options action for Arrowhead Research Corp (NASDAQ:ARWR).

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

STOCKS – NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITY

STOCKS – NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

Commodities:

Crude oil resumed its downtrend today, despite a bigger-than-expected decline in domestic inventories. By the close, February-dated oil was down 85 cents, or 1.6%, at a five-year low of $53.27 per barrel, bringing its annual loss to a staggering 46% -- black gold's worst since 2008.

February-dated gold slipped back below the $1,200 level, shedding $16.30, or 1.4%, to end at $1,184.10 per ounce. For the year, the malleable metal dropped 1.5%.


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