U.S. equity markets opened about lower this morning, and couldn’t catch a bid all day. The impending fiscal cliff dominated sentiment in Europe as well as the U.S. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed out the year with a 12-month gain of 23%, its best performance since 2005. In Europe, France revised its third quarter GDP growth estimate downward to a mere 0.1%. Retail sales in Spain declined less than the expected 10% and Italy sold 10-year debt at 4.48%, only a few ticks higher that the November price. In the U.S., concerns over the fiscal cliff overshadowed a decent report on Chicago PMI (more coverage here) and a better than expected rise in pending home sales (more coverage here).
The U.S. dollar index rose rose 0.07% today, now at 79.678. The GSCI commodity index is down less than 0.1% at 645.78, with commodities prices mixed today. WTI crude oil closed down 0.1% today, at $90.80 a barrel, but closed the week up 2.4% as crude inventories fell slightly (more coverage here). Brent crude trades down 0.1% at $110.66 a barrel. Natural gas is up 1.6% today at about $3.47 per thousand cubic feet, following a storage report that was in line with expectations (more coverage here). Gold settled down 0.4% today at $1,656.30 an ounce, and closed the week down 0.3%.
The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA down more than 158 points to 12,937.73 (-1.21%), the NASDAQ fell more than 25 points (-0.86%) to 2,960.31, and the S&P 500 fell -1.10% or nearly 16 points to 1,402.43.
There were no earnings reports of note today and none are scheduled for Monday.
Some standouts from today include the following stocks:
Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is down 4.6% at $3.82. The mobile phone maker got some bad press today from Barron’s, although it did collect about $65 million from Research in Motio Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) as a first payment from a patent litigation settlement. More coverage here.
Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) is up 3.8% at $29.36. The nutrition and weight loss supplement maker’s shares are making a comeback (now down about 40% for the year) from the beating it took last week on news that William Ackman had amassed a huge short position in the company.
magicJack VocalTec Ltd. (NASDAQ: CALL) is up 10.3% at $17.96. The VoIP provider appointed a new CEO today and forecast a stronger-than-expected fourth quarter.
Stay tuned for Monday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):
- 10:30 a.m. – Dallas Fed manufacturing survey
- 3:00 p.m. – Farm prices
Have a great weekend!