Saturday, January 4, 2020

S&P 500 and DJIA Hit by Middle East Tensions

From Seeking Alpha and Barron's:

A New Year's Jolt. Stocks fell, oil jumped, and Treasury prices rose as markets were roiled by the U.S. assassination of a top Iranian military commander.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 234 points, or 0.8%, to 28634.88. The S&P 500 dropped 0.7%, to 3234.85, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.8% to end the week at 9020.77.

Oil spiked about 3%, and defense stocks jumped, with Lockheed Martin shares rising 3.6% and
Northrop Grumman stock gaining 5.4%. with WTI crude settling 3.1% higher at $63.05 per barrel after spiking as much as 4.8%. Risk sentiment also was dimmed by the weakest reading for the ISM Manufacturing Index since June 2009, which raised concerns of slowing U.S. economic growth.

Details were reached on the China-U.S. "Phase One" trade deal, which are expected to nearly double American exports to China over the next two years. China also said it would crack down on intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and deepen access to its financial markets, while both sides suspended additional tariffs and the U.S. reduced existing levies. Similarly, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to implement USMCA after the inclusion of tougher labor and auto content rules.

Despite a weakening economy, Sweden's Riksbank swam against the tide of global monetary policy by hiking its benchmark repo rate by a quarter point to 0.0%. The move, which ends half a decade of negative rates, may have other central banks admit to some downside amid fears of penalizing good savers, supporting companies that might otherwise collapse and inflating bubbles in the property market. Kicking the unconventional addiction is not easy, with rates still negative in the eurozone, Hungary, Japan, Denmark and Switzerland.

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