Being that the US equity markets are almost 100% likely to end the month with losses, the opening of the final week of January trading may have been significant if only for the direction of a select number of trading vehicles.
Obviously, energy stocks were once again in focus after last week's faux rally on actual inventory builds, though the pundits of oil slickery are blaming today's demise on the record weekend blizzard that decimated the Northeast.
As lame as it may sound, having the I-95 corridor out of commission for the better part of three to four days is certain to result in growth of the oil and distillate glut that has been plaguing the markets for the past 18 months. The logic is simple: if people aren't driving, nobody's buying gas, and that is exactly what the market doesn't want to hear, especially those of the camp who still believe in the peak oil myth and would like nothing better than to cripple the middle class with another round of crushing gas prices at the pump.
Sadly for them, no such thing is about to occur, and, after being goosed nearly 20% last week, WTI crude took a turn to the downside again, off almost 6% on the day, closing just a nod above $30 per barrel. With the canard of higher oil prices (last week was a serious short squeeze) out of the way, oil majors Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX) - both Dow components - both declined by more than three percent.
Also taken down a few notches were banks, especially Bank of America (BAC), which closed below 13 at 12.96, a one-day four percent drop, now down a solid 30% from its recent 52-week high (18.48). Investors and specs are concerned not only with BAC's exposure to the oil patch and fracking concerns, which have been going belly-up since last Autumn, but with the overall health of the banking sector. Reminded that the nation's largest banks had to be bailed out during the sub-prime crisis just eight years ago, stock players don't need much to arouse their worst suspicions, that the balance sheets of the big money center banks are still not exactly transparent.
Citigroup (C) also was on the chopping block, losing 3.35%, extending its decline since May to a third of its value, from 60.95 to today's close at 39.55.
Meanwhile, gold and silver put on tidy gains, with gold edging up nearly $10, from $1098/oz. at Friday's close to a finish in US markets at $1107.90 today. Silver gained, from an even $14 to $14.23 on the day.
Overall, stocks were exposed again, with US indices staying in the red all day long, the selling accelerating during the afternoon and into the close. It was an inauspicious start to the week in a month that has been nothing short of embarrassing for Wall Street's perms-bulls.
Today's Closing Prices:
S&P 500: 1,877.08, -29.82 (1.56%)
Dow: 15,885.22, -208.29 (1.29%)
NASDAQ: 4,518.49, -72.69 (1.58%)
Crude Oil 30.33 -5.78% Gold 1,105.60 +0.85% EUR/USD 1.0849 +0.47% 10-Yr Bond 2.0220 -1.27% Corn 369.25 -0.27% Copper 1.99 -0.47% Silver 14.23 +1.23% Natural Gas 2.16 +0.84% Russell 2000 997.37 -2.28% VIX 24.15 +8.10% BATS 1000 19,941.58 -1.78% GBP/USD 1.4246 -0.19% USD/JPY 118.3035 -0.36%