Dow Ends Higher in Wild Start to New Year

Oil prices created a positive catalyst for stocks at midday

Jan 2, 2019 at 4:31 PM
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It was a volatile start to the new year, with the Dow exploring a 484-point trading range on both sides of breakeven. While signs of a weakening global economy got the bears going early on, bulls rushed in at midday as oil prices climbed. The price action eventually resolved to the upside, with attention shifting to today's meeting between President Donald Trump and congressional leaders discussing border security and the partial government shutdown.

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

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 23,346.24) eked out an 18.8-point, or 0.08%, win on the first trading day of 2019. Fifteen blue chips closed higher, led by a 3% pop for Goldman Sachs (GS). UnitedHealth (UNH) paced the 15 decliners with its 2.3% drop.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,510.03) traded on both sides of the flatline, too, eventually adding 3.2 points, or 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite (IXIC - 6,665.94) fared the best of its peers, adding 30.7 points, or 0.5%.

The Cboe Volatility Index (VIX - 23.22) gave back 2.2 points, or 8.7%, to close below its 20-day moving average for the first time since Dec. 3.

Closing Indexes Jan 2

NYSE and Nasdaq Jan 2

5 Items on our Radar Today

  1. Tesla (TSLA) lowered the prices on all U.S. models by $2,000 to offset smaller green tax credits. The electric car maker also missed fourth-quarter Model 3 delivery estimates, sending TSLA stock down 7% to start the year. (Reuters)
  2. Gasoline-price tracker GasBuddy expects gas prices could jump as much as 35% by May as major oil producers cut production. While average gas prices hit $2.229 on Wednesday -- their lowest level since July 2017 -- the gasoline-price tracker sees them climbing above $3 later this year. (MarketWatch)
  3. Baidu's big reversal attracted the eye of options bulls.
  4. The 25 worst stocks to own in January.
  5. 3 stocks hit with downgrades today.

There are no earnings to report.

UVOL January 2

Data courtesy of Trade-Alert

Oil, Gold Start 2019 Higher

Oil prices got a lift today after a report showed a sharp drop in December crude exports from Saudi Arabia -- signaling the start of output cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC members, including Russia. February-dated crude gained $1.13, or 2.5%, to close at $46.54 per barrel.

Gold hit a six-month peak today, as stock market volatility stoked the appeal of safe-haven assets. Gold for February delivery settled up $2.80, or 0.2%, at $1,284.10 an ounce.

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