Stocks Tank on D.C. Shutdown Fears

The Nasdaq briefly flirted with bear-market territory

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Dec 20, 2018 at 4:30 PM
Updated on Dec 20, 2018 at 4:39 PM

The recent selling pressure intensified today, with the Dow and S&P touching new annual lows, and the Nasdaq briefly entering bear-market territory -- defined as 20% off its all-time high. Lingering concerns about the Fed and plummeting oil prices weighed on stocks, while a standoff in Washington, D.C. fueled fears of a government shutdown. Specifically, President Donald Trump said he won't sign a funding bill -- which already passed through the Senate -- unless it includes money for the border wall with Mexico. If a deal is not reached by midnight tomorrow, the government faces a partial shutdown. Against this uncertain backdrop, Wall Street's "fear barometer" logged its highest close in 10 months.

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

  • 3 drug stocks destroyed by FDA news.
  • How Carnival options traders doubled their money in two weeks.
  • Plus, the software stock loved by analysts; bullish bets on FAANG; and Tilray's new partner.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 22,859.60) ended 464.1 points lower, or 2%, and touched an annual low of 22,644.31. Of the 30 Dow stocks, only Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) finished higher, adding 0.5%. Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) paced the 29 declining stocks, dropping more than 5% after earnings.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,467.42) shed 39.5 points, or 1.6%, after touching a new low of 2,441.18. The Nasdaq Composite (IXIC - 6,528.41) dove 108.4 points, or 1.6%, after marking a new annual low of 6,447.91 -- below the threshold for bear-market territory.

The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX - 28.38) ended the day up 2. 8 points, or 11%, for its highest close since February.

closing indexes summary december 20

nyse and nasdaq stats december 20

5 Items on our Radar Today

  1. Cigarette maker Altria Group today confirmed a $12.8 billion investment in e-cigarette maker Juul. The company said it took a 35% stake in Juul to "prepare for a future where adult smokers overwhelmingly choose non-combustible products over cigarettes." (MarketWatch)
  2. Thousands of travelers have been stranded at London's Gatwick Airport, which has been shuttered due to commercial-sized drones near the airfield -- something officials have deemed as deliberate. As such, armed forces are being deployed to track the operators of the drones. (Reuters)
  3. Analyst: Buy this software stock now.
  4. Why one brokerage firm is bullish on (most) FAANG stocks.
  5. The Tilray partnership shaking up the beverage industry.

corporate earnings december 20

unusual options activity december 20

Data courtesy of Trade-Alert

Oil Tanks to New Lows

Oil resumed its recent rout, barreling to new annual lows on concerns about global oversupply. February-dated crude futures plunged $2.29, or 4.8%, to settle at $45.88 per barrel.

Gold futures, on the other hand, ended higher, bolstered by a weaker greenback and demand for "safe haven" assets amid the stock market's plunge. By the close, gold for February delivery was up $11.50, or 0.9%, at $1,267.90 an ounce.


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