Stocks Edge Higher at the Start of a Busy Week
The first major Wall Street week of the year got off to a positive start on Tuesday as the benchmark US equity indexes rose. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.26% ended the day up 80 points, or 0.4 percent, at 21,898. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.22% gained 6 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,512, with energy and bank stocks leading the gains. Financials led the way higher on the day, with Goldman Sachs GS, -1.81% gaining 4 percent after the firm posted better-than-expected results for the quarter. Other financial names such as J.P. Morgan JPM, -1.09% rose 3 percent as well. Technology stocks were the weakest sector on the day, with the Nasdaq free-falling 1 percent. Stocks edged higher on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 53 points, or 0.2 percent, at 21,898, and the S&P 500 up 6 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,516. Energy and financial shares led the gains. The Dow also ended Europe’s day higher, with German blue-chips DAX 30 index DAX, -1.07% leading the rally, along with financials. Germany’s DAX rose 1.3 percent, with banks outperforming. The last time the S&P 500 rose on the first day of the year
Stocks Edge Higher as Tech, Banks Rise
Stocks rose on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.26% up 80 points, or 0.4 percent, at the end of trade. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.22% also gained, 8 points, or 0.2 percent, at 2,512. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.25% added 14 points, or 0.6 percent, to 7,045.
The rally on Tuesday was led by banks and technology stocks, with financials, industrials and materials sectors also climbing. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. rose 4 percent after the firm reported better-than-expected results for its third quarter, which was boosted by strong results for its consumer banking unit. Other financial names also recorded gains, with Goldman Sachs rising 4 percent and Bank of America Corp. up 3 percent. Meanwhile, tech stocks led the way higher on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq hitting a new all-time high intraday. Facebook FB, -0.59% was up 3.2 percent, Netflix NFLX, -0.83% was up 2.9 percent and Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -0.65% was up 2.8 percent.
US Markets Wrap up Week on a High Note
U.S. stock markets wrapped up a week that featured gains on both ends of the spectrum. The S&P 500 closed up 0.9 percent for the week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.26% rose 0.4 percent during the week. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.25% rose 0.5 percent for the week.
Stocks started the week on a positive note, with the DJIA rising 0.6 percent on Monday after federal data showed that the economy grew at a faster-than-expected pace in the third quarter. Some analysts believe that the economy’s strength could help push the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates this year. On Tuesday, stocks pushed higher again as a stronger-than-expected report on home sales and new home construction helped lift sentiment. The S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent, while the Nasdaq gained 0.9 percent.
Europe Stocks Slip on Political Uncertainty
European markets were mixed on Monday, ending the week on a weaker note. The Stoxx Europe 600 ETF SXXP, +0.26% fell 0.2 percent, while the FTSE Eurofirst 300 index FEUR, -0.36% added 0.1 percent. The blue-chip Euro Stoxx 50 index ESM, -0.11% ended the day down 0.2 percent.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed lower on Monday, with losses led by the pan-European banking and oil names. Royal Bank of Scotland Group RBS, -0.35% fell 2.4 percent, BNP Paribas SA BNP, -0.29% was down 2.2 percent and Crédit Agricole SA CR, +0.19% closed down 2.1 percent. In contrast, France’s CAC 40 index PX, -0.75% closed down 0.1 percent and Germany’s DAX 30 index DAX, -1.07% ended the day up 0.1 percent.
Oil Climbs as Fear of Glut Eases
Crude oil prices came under pressure last week after rising to record levels, but closed the week on a stronger note. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures CLH9, +0.40% ended the week up 2.4 percent, while Brent crude oil prices US:LCO9 ended the week up 1.9 percent.
Crude oil prices rose after Chinese data revealed that the country’s manufacturing sector grew more slowly in December than expected. Data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that U.S. crude stocks fell by 9.6 million barrels in the week ending Jan. 14, which is the smallest weekly decline since April.
Bitcoin Rises as Bubble Anxiety Runs High
The price of bitcoin rose sharply late last week as market anxiety grew over the asset’s meteoric rise. One bitcoin BTCUSD, +0.45% was worth $17,834 on Friday, Jan. 6, up from a price of just $939 at the beginning of the year. However, the price of the digital currency sank back towards $13,000 on Monday and closed the week at $12,420, down nearly 20 percent for the week.
Market anxiety towards bitcoin was sparked by a report that China’s largest financial services company, Ant Financial, is launching a cryptocurrency index tracking fund. The fund will track the top 10 cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, and will officially launch in March, the report said. Other catalysts that raised equity market fears about a potential bubble include the fact that the price of bitcoin has been extremely volatile and that the cryptocurrency has a history of extreme price movements.
Gold Climbs as Dollar Weakens
The price of gold continued to climb on Friday, Jan. 13, as investors reacted to another record-setting week for the yellow metal. The ICE Futures US:GCK9 closed at a record $1,337.40 an ounce on Thursday, Jan. 12, and closed the week at $1,333.80 an ounce.
Investors also viewed with concern a report that the U.S. Defense Department is banning its personnel from trading cryptocurrencies. The Pentagon said that it is “not considering digital currencies as a legitimate financial vehicle” and that the use of cryptocurrencies will result in “disciplinary action.”
Key S&P 500 Indexes to watch in 2018
S&P 500 companies will report their earnings results for the fourth quarter of 2017 on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. Other major equity market indices will also report for the year, including the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.26% the NASDAQ Composite Index COMP, -0.25% and the S&P 500 SPX, -0.22%
Earnings reports for the S&P 500 will be released at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, with the first quarter of 2018 earnings expected to be released on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
The S&P 500 index will close at the open on Friday, Jan. 20, 2018, and will be followed by a report on second-quarter growth expected on Friday, Jan. 27.
The S&P 500 will close on Monday, March 19, and a report on first-quarter earnings is expected on that day as well.
The S&P 500 will close on Wednesday, April 18 and a report on second-quarter earnings is expected on that day as well.
The S&P 500 will close on Friday, June 29 and a report on third-quarter earnings is expected on that day as well.
The S&P 500 will close on Tuesday, Sept. 26 and a report on fourth-quarter earnings is expected on that day as well.
Final Words: What to expect from a volatile year for stocks
Stocks tend to be volatile, with even the best years seeing significant moves in either direction. Investors need to be ready for the unexpected, but they also need to keep their eyes on the long term. In 2018, investors should expect volatility to continue in the markets and in the stock market as a whole
This is a volatile year for the markets and for stocks. This is the year when we will see whether a