Dow Jones Industrial Average Falls 23 Points as Oil Prices Slump Again

For Dec. 28, 2015, here's the top stock market news and stocks to watch based on today's market moves...

How Did the Stock Market Do Today?

Dow Jones Industrial Average Dow Jones: 17,528.27; -23.90; -0.14%

S&P 500: 2,056.50; -4.49; -0.22%

Nasdaq: 5,040.99; -7.51; -0.15%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average today (Monday) slipped more than 23 points to kick off the final week of trading in 2015. Markets slumped thanks to a downturn in energy stocks and oil prices. The Nasdaq was off seven points today despite receiving a bump from shares of Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN). The e-commerce giant's stock gained 1.9% on news it added three million new customers to its Amazon Prime membership in December.

In economic news, the U.S. saw a contraction in the Dallas Fed manufacturing sector, which is the heart of the U.S. energy industry. The sector remains under a severe economic crunch due to a sharp downturn in oil prices this year. Many markets around the globe were closed, including exchanges in England, Ireland, Australia, and Canada.

Top Stock Market News Today

  • Stock Market News: Eight of 10 major S&P sectors were in the red today, with energy and materials leading the downturn. Shares of Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE: FCX) were off more than 9.5%, while shares of Alcoa Inc. (NYSE: AA) were off more than 1.3%. Traders kept a close eye on the retail sector as numbers trickled in from last-minute Christmas shoppers and any post-holiday deals. According to data from Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA), U.S. holiday retail sales gained 7.9% this year, fueled by strong sales in furniture and women's apparel. Tech stocks were up marginally, despite a 1.1% decline in shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL).
  • Oil Outlook: Oil prices slipped again on light volumes, ending a multiday rally fueled by declining crude inventories. February's WTI prices were off 3.4% to close at $36.81 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent oil crude - priced in London - fell 3.4% to hit $36.62. The sector's most active traders today were Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), which fell 0.7% and 1.8% on the day, respectively. Coal giant Peabody Energy Corp. (NYSE: BTU) was the day's largest decliner, falling more than 14.5%.
  • What Time Do Markets Close on New Year's Eve? As traders prepare for New Year's Day and the start to 2016, markets will close on Dec. 31 at their regular hour - 4 p.m. ET. The markets will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1, and regular trade will resume on Monday, Jan. 4.
  • On Tap Tomorrow: On Tuesday, don't expect very large volumes as traders prepare for the short week ahead. The U.S. economic calendar features an update on international trade, the S&P Case-Shiller Index, and a monthly update on consumer confidence. Companies set to report quarterly earnings include Hanger Inc. (NYSE: HGR) and Eastman Kodak Co. (NYSE: KODK).

Stocks to Watch: VRX, BABA, FIT, AAPL, DIS, CMRX

  • Stocks to Watch No. 1, VRX: Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) slipped 10.5% on news the company's CEO J. Michael Pearson will be taking medical leave as he battles a case of pneumonia. The company is working to create a virtual office for Pearson, who worked at McKinsey & Company for more than two decades before becoming CEO and chairman in 2010. The company's executive team is poised to lead the controversial drug maker.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 2, BABA: Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) fell 1.8% on news the company will be investing in a Chinese food delivery company. The global e-commerce giant invested $1.25 million in, a deal which was panned by Wall Street analysts. BABA stock has fallen nearly 20% in 2015, but Wall Street still loves the stock. Right now, 16 of 19 analysts covering the stock have given BABA shares at least a "Buy" rating.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 3, FIT: Shares of Fitbit Inc. (NYSE: FIT) gained 3% on news that its free app was the top downloaded application on the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) store on Christmas day. The news offers positive hints that sales were very strong for the fitness technology company.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 4, DIS: Shares of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) were up 1.3% on news that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has set a Christmas Day North American box office record for sales. The film has set the record for surpassing an incredible $1 billion in global box office receipts in the shortest amount of time - just 12 days - according to media research firm Rentrak. The film nearly doubled the old Christmas Day record set by "Sherlock Holmes" in 2009.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 5, CMRX: Shares of Chimerix Inc. (Nasdaq: CMRX) crashed more than 81% and hit a 52-week low after the biotech company announced its blood and marrow infection treatment failed its phase 3 drug trial. The stock was under tremendous short pressure ahead of this announcement. According to reports from multiple options exchanges, traders purchased 6.19 puts for every single call option over the last 10 trading sessions.

What Investors Must Know This Week

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About the Author

Garrett Baldwin is a globally recognized research economist, financial writer, consultant, and political risk analyst with decades of trading experience and degrees in economics, cybersecurity, and business from Johns Hopkins, Purdue, Indiana University, and Northwestern.

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