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For Dec. 31, 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?
Here's how the major indexes were performing as of 2:40 p.m. today…
S&P 500: 2,050.02; -13.34; -0.65%
Nasdaq: 5,028.73; -37.11; -0.73%
The Dow Jones Industrial Average today (Thursday) was down 127 points heading into the final hour of trading for 2015. The S&P 500 looked as though it was going to finish the year flat, ending a long year of volatility, big gains for tech giants, and a huge downturn for many energy stocks. As of 2:40 p.m., shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) were down 2% and were the largest weight on all three major indexes. The tech giant had its first down year for its stock since 2008.
On the economic front, the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week. According to a report from the U.S. Labor Department, unemployment claims jumped by 20,000 to a seasonally adjusted 287,000 for the week ending on Dec. 26. The increase is likely linked to the end of the holiday shopping season. It was the largest increase since July 2015.
Top Stock Market News Today
- Stock Market Today: Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors were negative on Thursday, with energy stocks the lone gainer. On a day of relatively light volumes, the biggest news was geopolitical. In Iran, the nation's president Hassan Rouhani issued an order to expand his country's missile program. The announcement is a direct response to a recent threat by the United States to impose economic sanctions over an October missile test by the Iranian government.
- Oil in Focus: Oil pricesgained slightly on news of a major storm in the North Sea and data stating two oil rigs were removed from production last week, according to the weekly count from Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI). February's WTI prices were up 1.5% at $37.15 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent oil crude – priced in London – gained 2.8% to hit $37.89. The sector's most active traders today were Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), which were down 0.1% and up 0.01%, respectively, as of 2:40 p.m.
- On Tap Next Week: On Monday, traders will kick off 2016 with a focus on fresh economic data. Investors will want to keep an eye on the monthly PMI Manufacturing Index, an update on construction spending, and the Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure. No major U.S. companies are expected to report quarterly earnings on Monday. On Tuesday, the earnings calendar will kick back into gear when Sonic Corp. (Nasdaq: SONC) and SUPERVALU Inc. (NYSE: SVU) report results.
Stocks to Watch: WPX, CMRX, AAL
- Stocks to Watch No. 1, WPX: Shares of WPX Energy Inc. (NYSE: WPX) jumped more than 11.6% after the energy company announced it divested its San Juan Basin gathering system for nearly $310 million. The Tulsa-based company is just one of many energy stocks hovering near 52-week lows and looking for creative financial solutions to address concerns regarding their financial debts.
- Stocks to Watch No. 2, CMRX: Shares of Chimerix Inc. (Nasdaq: CMRX) gained more than 8% after hedge fund manager Steven Cohen announced his firm Point72 Asset Management has built a 5.3% stake in the biotech firm. The announcement comes just a few days after shares of the biotech company cratered more than 80% after it reported negative results from a late-stage drug trial.
- Stocks to Watch No. 3, AAL: Shares of American Airlines Group Inc. (Nasdaq: AAL) were off 1.3% after the company finally announced it completed its merger with U.S. Airways Group, a deal that took place in 2013.
What Investors Must Know This Week
- The Best Market Crash Insurance You Can Buy
- Grab Triple-Digit Gains from This "Stealth" Tech Star
- The Real Reason for China's Insatiable Gold Lust
About the Author
Garrett Baldwin is a globally recognized research economist, financial writer, and consultant with degrees from Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Purdue, and Indiana University. He is a seasoned financial and political risk analyst, with a focus on stocks, hedge funds, private equity, blockchain, and housing policy. He has conducted risk assessment projects for clients in 27 countries, and consulted on policy and financial operations for some of the nation's largest financial institutions, including a $1.5 trillion credit fund, a $43 billion credit and auto loan giant, as well as two of the largest Wall Street banks by assets under management.
Garrett joined Money Map Press as an economist and researcher in 2011, specializing in alternative strategies with an emphasis on fundamental and technical analysis.