What's moving markets today
Today's live coverage has ended. Join us back here Friday morning for more real-time markets news.
The day had a rough start with Macy's results, but overall markets pulled through.
Here are some of the biggest movers:
- Oil rose yet again, settling at $52.59 a barrel, for its ninth-straight gain. That hasn't happened since January 2010.
- Constellation Brands (STZ) led all stocks with a 6% gain. It was the market's worst performer Wednesday after the company lowered its 2019 outlook.
- GE (GE) rose 5.2%. It keeps on humming. Is the worst over?
- American Airlines (AAL) fell 4%. The company lowered its sales outlook for the fourth quarter.
Retail stocks got killed
Macy's (M) stock fell 18% — its worst day ever. The company reported sluggish sales for November and December and trimmed its guidance. And that brought down the entire retail sector:
Not even an 18% plunge for Macy's can derail this market rebound.
- The Dow climbed 123 points, closing just above 24,000.
- The S&P 500 gained 0.5%, notching its first five-day win streak since September.
- The Nasdaq advanced for the 10th day in the past 11.
Stocks closed near their highs of the day, erasing a 176-point slump on the Dow that was driven by concerns about bleak retail earnings and China’s economy.
Macy’s plummeted 18% on weak holiday sales and dimmed guidance. Kohl’s, JCPenney and L Brands all fell sharply as well.
US oil prices climbed to $52.59 a barrel, advancing for the ninth day in a row. That hasn’t happened since January 2010.
Xbox, Switch, PlayStation and ... Amazon? The video game world may have a new competitor soon, according to the Information. A new streaming video game service from Amazon could reportedly be launched as early as next year.
Twitch, the live video service that lets people watch video game players, is owned by Amazon. A video game service could be a nice fit.
Amazon also announced a new, free streaming service though its IMDB subsidiary. "Freedive" lets people watch a selection of movies and TV programs for free on IMDB and Amazon Fire TV devices.
Amazon has a huge amount of licensed and original content that's available to Prime members. The Freedive collection is significantly limited, but it's available for free to anyone, whether or not they have a Prime membership.
The oil market is really earning its boom-to-bust reputation lately.
US oil prices climbed to $52.59 a barrel on Thursday, advancing for the ninth day in a row. That hasn't happened since a streak that ended January 6, 2010, according to S&P Global Platts.
Fears about excess supply and waning demand sent crude crashing into a bear market in the fall. Oil plunged as much as 44%.
But thanks to Thursday's steady gain, oil is now up 24% since falling to $42.53 a barrel on Christmas Eve.
At least oil traders can't complain they're bored.
Reports that activist hedge fund Starboard Value is building a stake in MGM Resorts International (MGM) sent shares up nearly 2%.
It's unclear what Starboard's intent is and how much it has invested in the casino chain. MGM Resorts owns 28 resorts around the world.
MGM had a rough 2018: The stock shed nearly one-third of its value and reported weak bookings in Las Vegas.
Stocks moved modestly (to use one of the Fed's favorite words to describe the economy's growth) once Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell began speaking at an event at the Economic Club of Washington today. The Dow was up a bit at first as Powell talked about the economy but later dipped ever so slightly into the red.
Powell didn't really say anything that he hadn't said previously about the justification for last year's rate hikes, and he didn't give any major hints about the Fed's plans for the future. He reiterated that the Fed does not take political factors into consideration when deciding what to do with rates.
The market had been relatively calm before Powell began speaking.
1:30 pm: Toward the end of his talk, Powell sought to emphasize the Fed is willing to change its plans -- if needed.
"We're very flexible in adapting our policy if the economy moves, as it often does, in ways we don't expect," he said.
1:14 pm: Powell isn't buying into that 2019 recession talk.
“I don’t see anything that suggests the possibility of a recession in the near term is at all elevated,” he said.
Why? Powell said recent recessions have been caused by the Fed having to “hit the brakes” to combat high inflation or “asset bubbles.” Right now, the Fed doesn’t see evidence of either.
“I don’t see a recession,” Powell said.
However, the Fed chief is less bullish on the world economy. “The US economy is solid. There is good momentum going into this year. The principal worry is global growth,” he said.
1:08 pm: Here's more evidence of Wall Street's focus on the Fed's balance sheet: Powell reiterated that the Fed wants to have its balance sheet "return to a more normal level."
Asked what qualifies for "normal," Powell said "I don't know the exact level."He noted that the balance sheet has declined to about $4 trillion, but that before the 2008 crisis it was below $1 trillion.
"It will be substantially smaller than it is now," Powell said.
Stocks turned negative after the comments, with the Dow recently down about 35 points.
1:05 pm: Powell is sounding cautious about the impact of a prolonged government shutdown.
“If we have an extended shutdown, I do think that would show up in the data pretty clearly,” Powell said.
But he noted that the economic data would also be muddied because the shutdown is impacting the Commerce Department, which operates the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau. Reports like retail sales and GDP could be sidelined.
“We would have a less clear picture into the economy if it were to go on much longer,” Powell said.
12:56 pm: Asked if he's bothered by President Donald Trump's attacks on the Fed, Powell said "no."
"We do not take political factors into consideration in our discussions or decisions at all."
Powell seemed open to, though not enthusiastic, about a potential meeting with Trump.
"I’m not aware of any Fed chair turning down an invitation from the White House, nor do I think that would be appropriate," Powell said.
But when Rubenstein asked if he'd be happy to accept an invitation, Powell simply repeated: "I'm not aware of anyone not accepting it."
12:48 pm: Powell describes the labor market as "very strong," but acknowledges the market turmoil.
"Financial markets are expressing a view of concern about downside risks associated with global growth and with trade," Powell said.
Asked if the Fed still plans two rate hikes, Powell emphasized there is not on a set course.
"We're in a place where we can be patient and flexible," he said. "We're waiting and watching."
Earlier: Jerome Powell has been moving markets – up and down – lately. The Fed chief will be in focus again this afternoon as he fields questions at the Economic Club of Washington.
Powell is scheduled to be interviewed soon by David Rubenstein, the billionaire co-founder of the Carlyle Group.
Soothing words from Powell on interest rates and the Fed’s balance sheet helped propel markets last Friday. That amounted to a redo for Powell, whose comments during a December 19 press conference deepened fear on Wall Street.
Which Powell will show up on Thursday? Stay tuned for live updates.