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Stock Market Today: Stock Indexes Roll Higher, But Bitcoin Plunges | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

Stock indexes stepped up to solid gains midday Thursday, as the U.S. Senate moved toward a vote on the tax-cut package either late today or early Friday.

X The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average advanced 0.8%, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 added a little more than 0.6%.

The small cap Russell 2000 trailed the major indexes, rising 0.3%.

Volume in the stock market today was running below the previous session’s pace on both main exchanges.

The U.S. Senate is poised to vote on a tax-cut package. Passage of the bill could change the perception that the Republicans are unable to unite on anything, despite controlling both chambers in Congress as well as the executive branch.

In Vienna, OPEC is facing its own unity challenges. Saudi Arabia said it expects OPEC to stick with the commitment to curb oil production, which should support oil prices. An announcement on oil output is expected later in the day. Analysts expect the production cuts to be extended to the end of 2018, CNBC reported.

Light sweet crude rose 0.07 to $57.37 a barrel in midday trade.

Bitcoin Drops

Bitcoin, which has been the center of wild speculative buying recently, plunged to the $9,000 area after rising above $11,000.

Traders appeared to be reacting to comments from Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

He said it’s too soon for Goldman Sachs to develop a Bitcoin strategy and questioned whether it was truly a currency.

Stocks Up

Meanwhile, the stock market trended higher, undoing part of Wednesday’s damage.

Weakness in chips and strength in banks shaped Wednesday’s story, but both sectors offered pedestrian moves midday Thursday.

The Philadelphia semiconductor index, which dived 4% Wednesday, tacked on a 0.4% gain. The exchange-traded fund Powershares KBW Bank (KBWB), which rose 3% and 2.7% Tuesday and Wednesday, tossed in a 0.4% gain midday Thursday.

Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) and the FANG stocks — Facebook (FB), (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX) and Alphabet (GOOGL) — moved sideways to up Thursday after sizable losses and closes bearishly low in the day’s range Wednesday.

Recent Trends

Over the past five sessions, chip stocks have been among the biggest losers of 197 industry groups. The leadership over the five sessions is an interesting mix.

The now mid-rated department stores stabbed 15% higher. Retail shoes and apparel climbed 8%. Airlines gained 7%. Superregional banks checked in at 6%.

For retail, the strength goes beyond the past five sessions.

Retail also is among the top performers in the past four weeks. But the banks are more recent to leadership and carry more questions. Money centers traded in a 12% deep channel from March to September. The group has held above the channel for two months now, but the action has taken it only 4% above the previous channel.

Morgan Stanley (MS) has shown typical action for the money center group. The stock stayed in a price channel from March to late September. The channel established support at 40 to 43 and found resistance at  47 to 49. But the stock has turned the resistance into support and Thursday was trading at a new high. For more details on Morgan Stanley, see Stock Checkup at

Bulls pinned some of their hopes on banks after President Trump’s election win in 2016. But those hopes have yet to lead to much.

Economic News

Financial reports were mostly better than expected Thursday but only narrowly so.

First-time jobless claims checked in at 238,000 just under the consensus view for 240,000.

Personal income rose 0.4% in October, above views for 0.3%. Consumer spending increased 0.3%, matching the consensus estimate.

The Chicago purchasing managers gauge rolled in at 63.9 for November, topping the consensus for 63.5.


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