How markets are reacting to Iran

By CNN Business

Updated 9:26 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020
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4:06 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Stocks finish higher

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

US stocks ended stronger on Wednesday, turning higher after President Donald Trump assuaged investor worries over further escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran.

The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.7% to hit another all-time closing high.

  • The Dow finished 0.6%, or 162 points, higher.
  • The S&P 500 closed up 0.5%.
3:02 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020

US oil prices settle below $60

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Oil prices fell nearly 5% lower on Wednesday, dropping below $60 a barrel, as the US futures retraced their overnight spike.

Prices for the commodity rallied as high as $65.65 late Tuesday, after Iran attacked military bases in Iraq in retaliation for the United States killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

President Donald Trump addressed the nation earlier Wednesday, soothing investors worries about an impending military conflict, saying "Iran appears to be standing down."

US oil prices settled at $59.61 per barrel, down 4.9%.

"However, it remains to be seen whether the situation will now de-escalate further or we see further response from Iran," said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at FOREX.com. 

Gold prices also settled lower -- down 0.9% at $1,557.40 an ounce. The metal is a traditional safe haven investment, and prices climbed higher overnight.

1:53 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020

GrubHub soars on report it may be for sale

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

A takeover might be on the takeout menu for restaurant delivery company GrubHub.

Shares of GrubHub (GRUB) soared nearly 20% Wednesday after The Wall Street Journal said the company is considering a possible sale. GrubHub had no comment for CNN Business when asked about the report.

But GrubHub, which also owns Seamless, has struggled due to intense competition from Uber (UBER) and its popular Uber Eats service as well as privately held upstarts DoorDash and Postmates. 

The company's shares plunged more than 40% in October after it reported earnings and sales that missed Wall Street's forecasts and also lowered its outlook.

More consolidation would not be a huge surprise. DoorDash bought the Caviar delivery business from Square (SQ) last year. And GrubHub bought Eat24 in late 2017 from Yelp (YELP)— only to shut it down less than a year later.

Even Amazon (AMZN) pulled the plug on its Amazon Restaurants delivery service in the US last year.

GrubHub CEO Matthew Maloney and president and CFO Adam DeWitt said in a letter to shareholders last October that "online diners are becoming more promiscuous."

So GrubHub decided to use discounts and other promotions to lure customers -- at the expense of profit margins. It's a strategy that has not paid off. Now GrubHub might need to get gobbled up.

1:16 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Don't change your investment strategy because of short-term factors, strategist says

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

The geopolitical woes that took over the first week of 2020 might have some investors wondering whether their portfolios can withstand a year plagued with such risks.

But rejiggering a portfolio to respond to specific geopolitical developments makes little sense for long-term investors, said Krishna Memani, former vice chairman of investments at Invesco, on the CNN Business digital live show Markets Now.

Traditional investment safe havens like gold and the Japanese yen spiked overnight as traders piled into them. Some fixed income assets, like US government bonds, can also be a refuge in risky times.

"I like bonds, because they pay a coupon," Memani said. "If things get really bad gold would do well, but so would bonds."

Oil prices shot higher in lock step with the US-Iran tensions heating up. But at the end of the day, the price of oil will be much more reliant on the health of the global economy, Memani pointed out.

For the stock market, Memani's view remains steady for this year: "I continue to favor tech and communications companies," he said.

1:26 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Amazon's Alexa is going places

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Amazon's (AMZN) Alexa is off to new shores. The voice-controlled assistant will be programmed into the new Lamborghini, for example.

"Amazon is continuing its journey to put Alexa in what seems to be just about everything," CNN Business' own Samantha Kelly, reporting live from CES in Las Vegas, told Zain Asher on the CNN Business digital live show Markets Now.

"When you get into their new model car you can say 'Alexa, warm up my seats' or 'turn on the overhead lights'," Kelly said.

While the ownership of a Lamborghini is not exactly attainable for the masses, it is indicative of a broader trend of voice control making its way into different parts of day-to-day life.

1:00 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Traders digest stocks wild ride

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Stocks had a wild ride overnight amid the escalation between the United States and Iran. But less than 24 hours after Iran retaliated with attacks on Iraqi military facilities that house US forces, equities are rallying.

So what gives?

"I think geopolitical issues are huge," said Teddy Weisberg, founder of Seaport Securities, said on the CNN Business digital live show Markets Now, likening the problems to the trade worries that governed investor sentiment last year.

"We saw the trend last night, the futures were down pretty big when the [Iranian] attack started," Weisberg said. Equally, the turnaround came swiftly as details emerged, including that no American lives had been affected.

Since then, President Donald Trump further eased investor fears, saying Iran appears to be standing down. Stocks are rallying.

"The stock market reduces things to its lowest common denominator pretty quickly," Weisberg said.

At the end of the day, however, stocks are driven by the economy and corporate earnings, he added.

12:32 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Sanders campaign responds to billionaire's Bernie warning to Wall Street

From CNN's Matt Egan and Ryan Nobles

Jeff Gundlach correctly predicted Donald Trump's 2016 victory. Now, the billionaire investor is warning investors that Bernie Sanders is the "odds-on favorite" to win the 2020 Democratic nomination.

The Sanders campaign crafted a clever response that nods to their hopes for Gundlach to be right -- and the US senator's anti-billionaire stance.

"A stopped Rolex is right twice a day," a Sanders campaign spokesman said.

A Sanders White House would strike fear into the hearts of many on Wall Street. The self-described democratic socialist wants to raise taxes on Corporate America and the rich, curb stock buybacks and outlaw fracking.

12:00 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Stocks rally as Trump eases fears about Iran

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

Wall Street breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday after President Trump said that minimal damage was done to bases in Iraq attacked by an Iranian missile strike Tuesday night and that Iran appears to be standing down.

The Dow rallied more than 200 points in late morning trading following Trump's comments. It is now about 1% from its all-time high. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each hit new records.

Oil prices, which had spiked overnight, retreated. And gold, which had been rallying lately due to rising geopolitical tensions, pulled back as well. The CNN Business Fear & Greed Index rose too and remains in Extreme Greed territory, signaling that investors are not overly worried about the Iran situation.

12:16 p.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Crude oil plunges in stunning reversal

From CNN Business' Matt Egan

Oil prices fell sharply Wednesday, reversing the initial panic spike caused by fears of a deeper conflict between the United States and Iran.

US crude tumbled 4%, hitting session lows, after President Donald Trump signaled tensions could be easing.

"Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world," Trump said in a highly-anticipated speech.

Crude briefly dipped below $60 a barrel after Trump's remarks, giving back all of the gains from last week's US drone strike that killed a top Iranian commander.

It's a dramatic pullback from the high of $65.65 late Tuesday after Iran lobbed missiles on bases in Iraq that house US troops.

Trump confirmed that no Americans were harmed in that attack. And rather than signaling a US military response, Trump vowed to impose new sanctions on Iran.