December 12, 2017
Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wall Street ends down in volatile session; materials a drag

US stocks ended down slightly in a volatile session, led by a drop in materials and energy shares following further weakness in commodity prices.

The S&P 500 slipped under its 50-day moving average of 2,046 around midday, triggering weakness, while volume also picked up. All three indexes fell from highs of more than 1 percent during the session, with the S&P 500 moving more than 48 points from its high for the day to its low, its widest range since Oct. 15.

Shares of homebuilders fell 1.5 percent after KB Home forecast a drop in gross margins for the first quarter. Homebuilder stocks had been up earlier in the session, but KB Home dropped 16.3 percent to $13.87, its biggest percentage fall since 1992.

Shares of Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold slid 7.5 percent to $21.04, and were the S&P 500's biggest percentage decliner. The S&P materials index fell 1.2 percent and was the S&P 500's worst-performing sector.

Copper prices dropped further below $6,000 per tonne to their weakest level in more than five years, while oil prices tumbled to near six-year lows before recovering.

The S&P energy index was down 0.7 percent, with shares of Exxon Mobil down 0.4 percent at $90.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 27.16 points, or 0.15 percent, to 17,613.68, the S&P 500 lost 5.23 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,023.03 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.21 points, or 0.07 percent, to 4,661.50.

The losses extended the recent decline to a third day. The S&P 500 is now down 3.2 percent since its Dec. 29 record high, marked by concerns about plunging oil prices, global economic weakness and Greece's potential exit from the euro zone.

A reduction in the amount to hedging in the market as shown by options on the CBOE Volatiity index suggests some investors may be more exposed to big flucutations in the stock market, said Joe Bell, senior equity analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati. The VIX ended the day up 4.9 percent at 20.56.

Results have begun rolling in for U.S. quarterly earnings, though estimates have fallen sharply in recent months as oil prices sold off.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber stumbled 7.1 percent to $26.05 after the company estimated full-year operating income growth "slightly below" its forecast of 10 to 15 percent.

About 7.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, above the 7.2 billion average for the last five sessions, according to BATS Global Markets.

NYSE decliners outnumbered advancers 1,627 to 1,460, for a 1.11-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,393 issues fell and 1,326 advanced, for a 1.05-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 57 new 52-week highs and 21 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 113 new highs and 105 new lows.

Retail shares led European equities higher, with expectations of new economic stimulus measures from the European Central Bank also helping to prop up stock markets.

The STOXX Europe 600 Retail Index rose 2.9 percent, outperforming a 1.4 percent advance in the broader, pan-European STOXX 600 index and a similar rise in the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index.

German retailer Metro AG climbed 4.5 percent after strong Christmas sales.

British supermarket operator Morrison also advanced 4.5 percent as investors welcomed the departure of chief executive Dalton Philips, who had presided over weak Christmas trading figures.

State-controlled French electricity and power group EDF rose 5 percent on French plans for new nuclear reactors, but the European oil and gas sector underperformed bigger gains elsewhere as oil prices hovered near six-year lows.

Traders said the low oil price would help retailers as theoretically it would give consumers more money to spend.

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Tags:  Stocks  shares  FTSEurofirst  Nikkei  US  Dow Jones  

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