Markets took a beating today on a barrage of news.
First the scoreboard:
Dow: 12,570, -185.2, -1.4 percent
S&P 500: 1,355, -19.0, -1.3 percent
NASDAQ: 2,846, -37.0, -1.2 percent
And now the top stories:
- Oil prices spiked this morning after the Israeli Defense Force said it killed Hamas leader Ahmed Al-Jabari in an air strike. Hamas released a statement saying that their leader's death has "opened up the gates of hell" for Israel.
- U.S. retail sales fell 0.3 percent in October, which was marginally worse than the 0.2 percent decline forecasted by economists. Excluding autos and gas, sales fell 0.3 percent, which was much worse than the 0.4 percent gain expected.
- The Fed published the minutes of its October Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting today. Members said they liked the idea of adopting quantitative targets (e.g. unemployment rate target) to their monetary policy programs. "A number" of members also said they favored more quantitative easing after operation twist ends.
- President Barack Obama gave his first press conference since winning reelection. The fiscal cliff was a major topic. He pushed his tax policy, saying the "majority of voters agreed with me." "We cannot afford to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy" this time, he said. He also reiterated that the government needs to make sure that middle-class taxes do not increase.
- Miller Tabak's Jonathan Krinsky described this morning's stock market action as "another opening fade." Basically, investors are selling stocks whenever they show the slightest amount of strength. "This has the potential to create a bit of a wash out and the fully oversold readings we have been looking for, especially if the S&P Cash gets down to that 1354 area," wrote Krinsky.
- Art Cashin finds it worrisome when selling accelerates during the last hour of trading. From his note this morning: "[O]ld traders see the final minutes of trading as truth time. The bluffing and posturing is cast aside. Folks do what they need to do to get the trade on the tape. Everything up until then is a stage play. That’s why the action in the final thirty minutes both yesterday and Friday is of concern to old fogeys."
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