For the most part, stocks were better behaved on Thursday than they have been almost any day in this new year, but that's hardly any consolation for investors and holders of 401k products, who have seen roughly 10% of their portfolios wiped out over the better part of the past three weeks.
European Central Bank Chairman, Mario Draghi, made brief headlines prior to the US market open, hinting to anybody within earshot that the ECB would review its policy in March. Market watchers, or, more specifically, alogrithms which control the direction of trading these days, took that to be a positive sign, so stocks flow higher and remained in positive territory for the entire session.
European stocks also finished green, though Asian markets had spooked the altos earlier, with the Shangai Stock Exchange down more than three percent, to 2880, its lowest level in over a year. The Nikkei shed another 2.5% and the Hang Seng was down nearly two percent.
While Draghi's comments to the press may have soothed some nerves for now, markets remain under pressure and without upside catalysts. The world is entering what appears to be a prolonged decline, prompted by years of overfunding of easy money by central banks globally.
With options expiring on Friday, both bulls and bears have been well-served this week. The closing session for the week may be on the tame side, if only due to stocks being overextended short-term to the downside and general exhaustion, though longer term, earnings of companies reporting thus far don't seem to hold much promise for a quick, lasting rebound.
If there was any disappointment on the day, it was into the close, which was unremarkably weak, the NASDAQ finishing within a hair's breath of going down the tubes.
Today's closing figures:
S&P 500: 1,868.99, +9.66 (0.52%)
Dow: 15,882.68, +115.94 (0.74%)
NASDAQ: 4,472.06, +0.37 (0.01%)
Crude Oil 29.70 +4.76% Gold 1,100.80 -0.49% EUR/USD 1.0876 -0.14% 10-Yr Bond 2.0190 +1.76% Corn 367.50 -0.34% Copper 1.99 +1.58% Silver 14.10 -0.39% Natural Gas 2.15 +1.61% Russell 2000 997.34 -0.20% VIX 26.69 -3.26% BATS 1000 19,915.85 +0.62% GBP/USD 1.4221 +0.23% USD/JPY 117.7250 +0.67%