The stock markets in the United States declined driven by the slide of equities in the energy sector as crude oil prices drop. The WTI and Brent crude fell 3.36% to $36.82 per barrel and 3.35% to $36.62 a barrel, respectively. Iran reiterated its objective to boost its oil exports after sanctions on the country were lifted.

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This year has been challenging for U.S. equities, which were hurt by the plunging oil prices, the strengthening of the dollars, the earnings performance of corporations, concerns regarding the slowing economic growth in China, and the timing of the first interest-rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Michael Gayed, the chief investment strategist at Pension Partners LLC, said, “There’s an old saying, ‘Don’t short a dull market,’ and some of this is consistent with that. A lot of people have probably checked out this week, and there are lower volumes today, so that could explain some of this. We’ve also seen a lot of strength tend to happen later on in the day this year.”

The S&P 500 is moving towards experiencing the worst December since 2002. The U.S. stock markets recorded a series of sharp declines and gains this year as investors focused on the timing of the first interest-rate hike.

[drizzle]Benno Galliker, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG in Lucerne, Switzerland, commented, “I don’t think we will see a huge decision made by any fund managers. The story could really be interesting next year. January is a sign for the whole year, and I think we could see quite some volatility.”

This week, the stock trading will be shortened as the markets will be closed for the New Year’s Day holiday on Friday. Investors will be watching the upcoming economic data including consumer confidence in Tuesday, October pending home sales on Wednesday, and the December reading on manufacturing in the Chicago area on Thursday.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 17, 528.34 (-0.14%)
  • S&P 500- 2,056.54 (-0.22%)
  • NASDAQ- 5,040.99 (-0.15%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,147.25 (-0.65%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,256.49 (-0.85%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,254.64 (+0.22%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 10,653.91 (-0.69%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 18,873.35 (+0.56%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 21,919.62 (-0.99%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,727.63 (-2.88%)

Stocks in Focus

The shares of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, gained today. The company’s Class A (GOOGL) shares climbed 2.14% to $782.24 each and its Class C (GOOG) shares rose 1.89% to $762.51 each. Analysts at Axiom Securities reiterated they Buy rating on Alphabet shares.

The stock price of Fitbit climbed 3% to $29.79 per share. During the Christmas weekend, the company’s app led the download in the App Store. Analysts also estimated that Fitbit’s EPS growth over the next five years will be around 32%.

Freeport-McMoRan declined more than 9% to $6.84 per share. The company’s co-founder and Executive Chairman James Moffett decided to step down from his position at the end of the year. He will continue to serve the company in a consulting role.

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