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For Dec. 30, 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: 17,603.87; -117.11; -0.66%
S&P 500: 2,063.36; -15.00; -0.72%
Nasdaq: 5,065.85; -42.09; -0.82%
The Dow Jones Industrial Average today (Wednesday) dropped 117 points as oil prices declined again and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde projected a disappointing growth forecast for 2016 and beyond. Lagarde warned a stronger U.S. dollar could fuel a wave of bond defaults by foreign companies, which would "infect" banks and global economies.
In economic news, U.S. sales of previously owned homes fell in November. The decline was a surprise to economists and raises concerns that the housing sector is losing momentum as 2015 comes to a close.
Top Stock Market News Today
- Stock Market Today: All 10 major S&P sectors were negative today, with energy and materials leading the downturn. Oil prices slumped again on concerns of oversupply after the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced domestic crude inventories increased by 2.6 million barrels last week. February's WTI prices were off 3.4% at $36.60 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent oil crude – priced in London – fell 3.5% to hit $36.46. The sector's most active traders today were Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), which both fell 1.3%. The sector's biggest loser on the day was Vanguard Natural Resources LLC (Nasdaq: VNR), which saw shares decline by 11.8%.
- 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. EST. The markets will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1, and regular trade will resume on Monday, Jan. 4.
- On Tap Tomorrow: On Thursday, traders will take to their stations for the last session of 2015. A light economic calendar features a weekly update on jobless claims and a critical December update to the Chicago PMI. Economists are looking for a positive report after the region suffered a contraction in manufacturing activity in November. Finally, the weekly Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) rig count will provide an update on oil production levels in the United States. No major U.S. companies are expected to report quarterly earnings on Thursday.
Stocks to Watch: MBIA, CHK, AAPL, AGO, TWTR, WTW
- Stocks to Watch No. 1, MBIA: Shares of MBIA Inc. (NYSE: MBI) slipped 3% on news Puerto Rico will skip several debt payments due this week, which will trigger the island's second default of 2015. Governor Alejandro García Padilla said the island government is focusing on its most important debt. However, that has triggered concerns across the bond markets and any companies servicing its debt. Shares of Assured Guaranty Ltd. (NYSE: AGO) were off 1.3% as well.
- Stocks to Watch No. 2, CHK: Shares of the nation's second-largest natural gas producer, Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK), continued to crater. The stock fell another 3.1% as oil and natural gas prices continue to decline. CHK stock was the worst performer of 2015 on the S&P 500, falling roughly 77% over the last 12 months. Suppressed commodity prices have made it very difficult for the company to handle the large amount of debt on its balance sheet.
- Stocks to Watch No. 3, AAPL: Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) fell another 1.3% after the technology giant announced it will pay the Italian government roughly $350 million (318 million euros) to settle a tax dispute with the country. The dispute is part of a large effort by the European Union to force international companies to pay taxes in every nation where it conducts business.
- Stocks to Watch No. 4, WTW: Shares of Weight Watchers International Inc. (NYSE: WTW) popped more than 18% after an emotional new advertisement featuring spokeswoman and investor Oprah Winfrey hit social media. This morning, Winfrey posted the advertisement to 30 million followers on Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) and said, "I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution."
What Investors Must Know This Week
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