Stocks Pare Gains as Oil Plummets

Democrats reportedly rejected a government funding plan, fueling fears of a shutdown

Managing Editor
Dec 18, 2018 at 4:28 PM
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Amid a violent bout of volatility emblematic of Wall Street's recent struggles, stocks endured another roller-coaster session today. The Dow was up over 300 points at its session highs, only to flirt with negative territory in afternoon trading, before recovering to end higher. Likewise, the S&P started strong, but touched another new annual low in afternoon action, before finishing with a fractional gain. Thanks to a solid day from tech stocks, the Nasdaq held on to its gains.

Energy stocks took a hit as oil prices dropped, with black gold suffering its worst session in years. In addition, reports out of Washington, D.C., took some wind out of bulls' sails, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying a funding deal couldn't be reached, fueling fears of a government shutdown this weekend. Traders also prepared for a Fed rate hike, with the central bank widely expected to boost its benchmark rate tomorrow.

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

  • Snag these stocks before a rate hike.
  • This penny stock soared on a big FAANG deal. 
  • What the firing of head coach Jose Mourinho did for Manchester United stock.
  • Plus, a medical device stock flashing a bullish signal; Take-Two stock levels up; and a big bear note for a sinking healthcare stock.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 23,675.64) ended 82.7 points higher, or 0.4%. Of the 30 the Dow components, 14 ended the day higher, led by aerospace concern Boeing (BA) with a 3.8% gain. Exxon Mobil (XOM) led the 16 laggards with a 2.8% drop.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,546.16) added 0.2 point, but earlier touched an annual low of 2,528.71. The Nasdaq Composite (IXIC - 6,783.91) added 30.2 points, or 0.5%.

The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX - 24.58) ended the day up 1.1 points, or 4.3%.

closing indexes summary december 18

nyse and nasdaq stats december 18

5 Items on our Radar Today

  1. U.S. housing starts rallied in November, but the underlying results showed signs of a struggling housing market. The report indicated housing starts actually fell in October, despite previous reports of a rise. In addition, single-family home construction decreased for the third straight month, marking an 18-month low. (Reuters
  2. Marijuana has injected itself into the beverage and tobacco industry, and is now making forays into healthcare. Earlier today, Tilray (TLRY) announced a distribution agreement with pharma name Novartis AG (NVS). It is the first major partnership of its kind between a cannabis company and a major pharmaceutical entity. (MarketWatch)
  3. It's time to buy the dip on this medical device stock
  4. An analyst initiation helped Take-Two stock level up.
  5. This healthcare stock could sink 82%, according to one report.

corporate earnings december 18

unusual options activity december 18

Data courtesy of Trade-Alert

Oil Suffers Worst Drop in 3 Years

As alluded to above, oil futures extended their recent sell-off, after it was reported Russian crude production hit record levels, adding to concerns of global oversupply. January-dated crude futures shed $3.64, or 7%, to finish at $46.24 per barrel, their lowest point since August 2017. It was the largest one-day drop since September 2015.

Amidst all the volatility today, gold futures, on the other hand, were steady. The benefited from a weakening dollar ahead of the Fed decision tomorrow.  February-dated futures gained $1.80 or 0.1%, to settle at $1,253.60 per ounce -- a five-month high.


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