Rebound in Oil Sector Fuels U.S. Stock Market Recovery
The major U.S. equity indexes finished slightly higher on Wednesday after posting a volatile two-sided trade earlier in the session. The price action suggests investors are in the “buy-the-dip” mode as the indexes recovered from early session weakness to close higher for the third time in less than a week.
In the cash market, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 2510.03, up 3.18 or +0.12%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 23346.24, up 18.78 or +0.08% and the technology-based NASDAQ Composite finished at 6665.94, up 30.66 or +0.42%.
It was another roller coaster day in the stock market with the Dow dropping nearly 400 points before closing higher. At their lows of the day, both the S&P 500 and NASDAQ were down more than 1 percent before rebounding enough to post a gain for the session.
Early Selling Fueled by Signs of Global Economic Slowdown
Pressuring the markets early in the session were weaker-than-expected manufacturing activity in China, the Euro Zone and the United States. This was read by investors as signs of a global economic slowdown.
China’s Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for December dipped to 49.7 from 50.2 in November. Euro Zone Manufacturing PMI remained at its lowest level since February 2016, according to IHS Markit. The data also showed confidence about the future hit a fresh six-year low. In the U.S., the IHS Markit Manufacturing PMI slipped to a 15-month low in December.
Hardline Comments Over US-China Trade Relations Generate Additional Selling Pressure
Stocks were also pressured after The New York Times reported that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has told friends and associates he wants to prevent President Donald Trump from accepting “empty promises” from China on the trade front.
The report went on to say that Lighthizer has warned Trump that additional tariffs may be needed to get meaningful concessions from the Chinese.
Oil Sector to the Rescue
A recovery in crude oil prices helped trigger the initial rebound in the equity markets. Oil prices were bolstered by signs of tighter supplies from Saudi Arabia that offset record output in the United States and Russia. The S&P 500 Energy Sector rose 2.1 percent on the news, led by gains in Cabot Oil and Hess.
The technology sector was underpinned by shares of Facebook and Amazon which rose 3.5 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. The Dow was driven higher after bank shares erased earlier losses as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase all climbed more than 1 percent.