New Highs for Dow as New Year's Rally Continues

The VIX was totally unmoved by Trump's late-night nuke tweets

Jan 3, 2018 at 4:32 PM
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In the wake of Tuesday's eleventh-hour record highs, bulls stayed the course in today's trading. Investors appeared to completely brush off some late-night nuclear brinksmanship on the part of President Donald Trump, with the VIX trading firmly lower throughout the course of the session. Meanwhile, the afternoon release of the latest Fed minutes didn't cause any major waves, with policymakers offering mixed opinions on the economic impact of the recent tax bill and the appropriate pace of rate hikes in 2018. Against this backdrop, the Dow barreled through a new century level to hit a record intraday high, while the S&P eked out a slimmer-than-average Santa Claus rally.

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

  • The catalyst that pushed IBM to the top of the Dow.
  • AMD's bull gap triggered massive option volume.
  • Analysts upped their estimates on a rumored takeover target.
  • Plus, 2 stocks rallying on new partnerships, and a utility stock we love as winter weather takes over.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA - 24,922.68) ended the day up 98.7 points, or 0.4%, as 21 of its 30 components closed higher. IBM led the gainers with a 2.7% pop, while Intel (INTC) tumbled 3.4% to pace the nine laggards. Along the way, the Dow crossed the 24,900 level for the first time, topping out at 24,941.92 in intraday action.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,713.06) tacked on 17.3 points, or 0.6%, after setting a new record high of 2,714.37. The S&P ended the traditional seven-day "Santa Claus" stretch up 1.1%. Finally, the Nasdaq Composite (IXIC - 7,065.53) extended its stay above the 7,000 marker with a gain of 58.6 points, or 0.8%. Earlier, the index topped out at a fresh high of 7,069.15.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 9.15) logged a second straight daily drop, as well as its second consecutive close in single-digit territory. The VIX ended the session on a decline of 0.6 point, or 6.3%, and printed as low as 8.94 at its intraday trough.

Closing Indexes Summary Jan 3

NYSE and Nasdaq Stats Jan 3

5 Items on Our Radar Today

  1. Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort -- who was indicted last October on 12 counts, including money laundering and conspiracy against the U.S. -- has filed suit against the Department of Justice. Manafort's lawsuit argues that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein overstepped his authority by empowering special counsel Robert Mueller to bring charges on matters unrelated to the presidential election. (CNN)
  2. Winter weather is hammering the East Coast. The same "bomb cyclone" that brought a rare burst of snow to Florida and Georgia is expected to drop a blizzard on New England Thursday; meanwhile, temperatures in some Baltimore classrooms reportedly dipped toward freezing due to aging and unreliable heating systems. (CNBC; Baltimore Sun)
  3. U.S. regulators drew the ire of Chinese state-run media after blocking a high-profile merger.
  4. BlackBerry and Sangamo both soared on lucrative new partnerships.
  5. Why we're buying calls on utility stock ETN.

Unusual Options Activity Jan 3
Data courtesy of Trade-Alert

Crude Hits New Highs; Fed Weighs on Gold

As protests continue in Tehran -- with the death toll in Iran's capital now topping 20 -- supply concerns propelled oil prices toward a three-year closing high. February-dated crude futures climbed $1.26, or 2.1%, to end at $61.63 per barrel. That marks the highest daily close for a benchmark crude contract since December 2014.

Gold futures extended their winning streak to a ninth day, ending the regular session up $2.40, or 0.2%, at a three-month high of $1,318.50 per ounce. However, following the afternoon release of the Fed minutes, gold erased those gains in electronic trading.

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