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The Dow Jones Industrial Average today fell slightly as investors prepare for the holiday weekend.
A declining dollar helped boost gold prices, while markets eyed the stability of the European banking sector. Italy has approved a state bailout for Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world's oldest operating bank.
Now, here's a look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus a preview of Tuesday's economic calendar. (U.S. markets will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26, in observance of the Christmas holiday.)
DJIA Today: Dow Slides Despite Positive Sentiment on U.S. Economy
The Dow Jones dipped 10 points in a light day of trading. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) – the market's fear gauge – added 1.6% and traded near 11.6 in afternoon trading. Despite the flat day for stocks and lack of earnings reports, it was a busy day of economic data.
This morning, the U.S. Commerce Department announced that sales of new single-family homes hit a four-month high in November. Despite the uptick in sales volumes, shares of construction companies KB Home (NYSE: KBH), Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL), and Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) all slipped on the day.
Meanwhile, retail stocks were mixed despite news that U.S. consumer sentiment in November hit its highest level since January 2004. According to the University of Michigan, the monthly reading for the consumer sentiment index ticked up from 98 in October to 98.2 in November. The uptick was fueled by the election of President-elect Trump and increasing optimism about the U.S. economy heading into 2017.
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Crude oil prices remained lower after Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) announced the U.S. weekly rig count increased by 13 last week. The United States now has 523 rigs in operation thanks to higher crude prices. Oil was also under pressure today on news that Libya has increased its production plans. Libya announced its intention to hike its crude output by roughly 270,000 barrels per day (bpd).
The WTI crude oil price today dipped 0.2%. Meanwhile, Brent crude slipped about 0.1%.
Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors has spent the last two weeks of 2016 putting together his 2017 oil forecast for our readers. Last year at this time, he set predictions for December 2016 for both WTI crude and Brent crude. Sure enough, both types of oil are trading in the range he projected. Now, he's setting his price targets for the year ahead and helping readers understand the biggest trends that will impact crude in the months ahead.
Here is your "2017 Oil Price Forecast."
Gold prices were ticking a bit higher despite the recent downturn fueled by an interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The price of gold today is up slightly 0.27%, and it is still trading near $1,133. Money Morning Resource Specialist Peter Krauth breaks down the price of gold in the months ahead and set an aggressive price target for the road ahead. Here's his latest insight.
But the big story today is news that the U.S. Justice Department has reached multibillion-dollar settlements with Deutsche Bank AG (USA) (NYSE: DB) and Credit Suisse Group Inc. (NYSE: CS). The two European banks have settled charges that they deceived investors on the quality of mortgage-backed securities in the run up to the financial crisis. Credit Suisse will pay $5.3 billion, while Deutsche Bank plans to pay $7.2 billion.
Shares of CS stock dropped 0.9%. DB stock added 0.2% on the day.
The announcement comes a day after the Department of Justice formally sued Barclays Plc. (NYSE ADR: BCS) over similar allegations. The British bank has vowed to fight the U.S. agency's allegations traced to $31 billion in loans from 2005 to 2007.
Finally, check your calendar.
On Monday, Dec. 26, the markets will be closed in observance of the Christmas holiday. Markets will reopen on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at regular market hours.
And speaking of calendars…
America's No. 1 Trader, Tom Gentile, is back with a look at what is happening with his Money Calendar Alert. Today, he's talking about two different patterns that can make you a lot of money if you just spend a few minutes a day learning how options trading works.
Top Stock Market News Today, Dec. 23, 2016
- Shares of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) fell nearly 1% after President-elect Donald Trump tweeted his concerns about the company's F-35 aircraft. In the message, Trump said he asked Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) to offer prices of its comparable aircraft, the F-18 Super Hornet. Shares of BA stock were flat on the day.
- Shares of Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) dipped more than 0.7% despite increasing optimism that the e-commerce giant may have its best holiday shopping season ever. The company said that voice-controlled speakers like the Amazon Echo have been strong sellers during the shopping season.
- In deal news, shares of Fred's Inc. (Nasdaq: FRED) added 4.7% after the private-equity Alden Global Capital announced a 24.8% stake in the discount store operator.
Tuesday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI at 9 a.m.
- Consumer Confidence at 10 a.m.
- Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index at 10 a.m.
- State Street Investor Confidence Index at 10 a.m.
- Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey at 10:30 a.m.
- Three-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- Six-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- Four-Week Bill Auction at 1 p.m.
- Two-Year Note Auction at 1 p.m.
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