Dow Jones Industrial Average Plunges as Bears Maintain Grip

After briefly trading north of $50, crude oil settled with a 4.6% loss

by Karee Venema

Published on Jan 15, 2015 at 4:20 PM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

It was a turbulent day of trading, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) up more than 90 points at its high mark, and down in excess of 129 points at its session low. By the time the dust settled, the action had resolved itself to the downside -- and the DJI was staring at its fifth consecutive daily loss. There was no shortage of market-moving news that unfolded today, including a currency shock by the Swiss National Bank (SNB), another round of disappointing bank earnings, a bigger-than-forecast jump in weekly jobless claims, and a stiff drop in crude. The risk-off attitude was seen elsewhere on the Street, with the S&P 500 Index (SPX) surrendering support at 2,000, and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) getting crushed by Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) analyst-induced slide.

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

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 17,320.71) spent time on both sides of breakeven today -- trading in a 219-point range -- eventually settling with a 106.4-point, or 0.6%, loss. Twenty-three of the Dow's 30 components closed lower, paced by JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s (NYSE:JPM) 3.2% plunge. UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) led the six advancers with its 1.1% gain, while United Technologies Corporation (NSYE:UTX) was unchanged.

In similar fashion, the S&P 500 Index (SPX - 1,992.67) started the day out higher, before closing down 18.6 points, or 0.9%, and south of the 2,000 level for the first time since Dec. 16. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,570.82) fared the worst of its peers, finishing 68.5 points, or 1.5%, lower.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 22.39) popped 0.9 point, or 4.2%, to notch its first close north of 22 since Dec. 16. Week-to-date, the market's "fear gauge" has surged nearly 28%.

CLOSING SUMMARY – INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY – NYSE AND NASDAQ

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. The Swiss National Bank voted to dissolve its nearly four-year-old practice of capping the exchange rate of the country's currency against the euro. The decision sent the franc soaring 41% against the euro -- a record gain -- and the Swiss Market Index (SMI) down 8.7%, its worst daily loss since 1989. (MarketWatch)
  2. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) downwardly revised its 2015 global demand forecast by 100,000 barrels to 28.8 million barrels per day. Meanwhile, although the group raised its estimate for U.S. oil production this year to a 22-year high, it said it expects annual growth to be lower-than-forecast due to a reduction in investments and drilling. (Bloomberg)
  3. Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE:BBY) offered up a dreary same-store sales outlook for the first half of the year, saying it expects the numbers to arrive flat or in negative-low-single-digit territory, due to a lack of demand for computers and tablets. The news sent the shares plunging more than 13%, and call players hitting the bricks.
  4. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) takes a swipe at LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD).
  5. Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) option bulls are getting active ahead of earnings.
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:

After a brief foray north of the round-number $50 mark in early trading, crude oil quickly backtracked following OPEC's downwardly revised 2015 global demand forecast. By the close, February-dated crude was down $2.23, or 4.6%, at $46.25 per barrel -- nearly erasing all of yesterday's big gain.

Gold rallied to a four-month high, as the dollar cooled amid the SNB's decision. At session's end, gold for February delivery was up $30.30, or 2.5%, to $1,264.80 -- its loftiest settlement since early September.


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