Markets Higher, Closing News 1/3/2012

Markets closed higher as the Dow jumped almost 180 points in the first session of 2012. Markets were lead higher by materials, financials, and energy stocks as investors were bullish because of good data points both domestically and from Europe and Asia today.

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index climbed to a six-month high in December, up to 53.9 from November’s reading of 52.7. Economists had been forecasting for a reading of 53.2. Construction Spending was also better than expected, being reported up 1.2% vs. forecasts for a 0.5% increase.

German unemployment fell to 6.8%, a record low since figures for unified Germany have been published. The Euro climbed 0.92% against the Dollar to $1.3049 on the news.

President Obama announced new sanctions against Iran which could cut banks that work with the central bank in Tehran off from the US financial system. Iran today threatened to take action if a US aircraft carrier returns to the Gulf after being removed because of Iranian naval exercises. Oil jumped 4.25% to $103.10 in response to the headlines.

The FOMC released the minutes from their most recent meeting this afternoon. Most notably the members of the committee will release projections for the Fed funds rate and will consider further enhancements to communications. The Fed also sees unemployment declining gradually and sees a moderate rate of economic growth.

The Iowa Caucus concludes tonight as the first official vote of the 2012 primary season is expected to provide some clarity on the Republican primary race. The three front runners coming into tonight are Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum.

The Giants won their second pseudo-playoff game this weekend, knocking out division rival Dallas. The G-men will now take on Atlanta in the first round of the playoffs this weekend.

Market Indices/Statistics:

  • Dow closed up 179.82 pts/+1.47% to 12,397.82
  • S&P closed up 19.45 pts/+1.55% to 1,277.06
  • Nasdaq closed up 43.57 pts/+1.67% to 2,648.72
  • 26 of the 30 Dow stocks closed higher / 6 were lower
  • 9 of the 10 S&P 500 sectors closed higher
  • Materials was the best performing sector (+2.90%)
  • Utilities was the only negative sector (-1.70%)
  • The VIX was down 0.42 to 22.98
  • Oil is up $4.27 to $103.10
  • Nat Gas is up $0.0060 to $3.022
  • Gold is up $39.90 to $1,606.80
  • Euro vs. Dollar up $0.0118 to $1.3049
  • Dollar vs. Yen down $0.21 to $76.65

Companies in the News:

3M closed higher (+2.15% to $83.49) after announcing it reached an agreement with Avery Dennison (+2.20% to $29.31) to acquire Avery Dennison’s office and consumer products business for $550 million.

BP (+3.28% to $44.14) is suing Halliburton (-1.04% to $34.15) for costs and damages relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and is seeking at least $20 billion. Halliburton provided cementing services at the Macondo well.

Shares of Devon Energy Corp. traded higher (+6.63% to $66.11) following an agreement to sell some of its US shale assets to Sinopec (SHI +6.11% to $35.10) for $2.2 billion.

Quest Diagnostics (-0.47% to $57.79) closed lower after announcing it will acquire S.E.D. Labs, a nationally recognized full-service medical and federally certified drugs-of-abuse testing laboratory.  erms of the seal were not disclosed.

After the market closed on Friday, Noah Education Holdings announced that CEO Jerry He has resigned for personal reasons. He had served as CEO for 9 months, and Dong Xu, Chairman of the Board and Chief Strategy Officer will act as interim CEO. Shares of NED closed up 2.79% to $2.21 in today’s session.

Coming Wednesday:

Economic Reports:  Factory Orders (expected to be 2.0%); Earnings  Mosaic Co. and UniFirst Corp.