US stocks edge lower; S&P 500 goes red for the year

After trading relatively flat for the first half of the year, stocks tanked over the summer amid fears of a slowdown in China and other emerging-market countries.

Wall Street appeared heading for another year of gains through August when a stretch of turbulence in Chinese equity markets ignited a global sell-off, pushing the S&P 500 below 1,900.

Both stock benchmarks were on the bubble of a positive year at the start of Thursday’s session, with the Dow needing a sizable, 219-point gain to hit break even, while the S&P 500 came into the session a few points above its 2014 close.

But broadly, the market struggled.

The modest declines capped a sluggish 2015 for the market. “I still think we hold at $32 [a barrel] or higher and before the end of the year is over maybe $55 [ a barrel]”, Kloza said.

Amazon closed at a new record of US$693.97, up 2.8 per cent, rising for a second day after Monday announcing record holiday sales of its premium delivery service.

A the closing bell the Dow Jones industrial average was down 178 points, or 1 percent, at 17,425.

The Nasdaq composite declined 58 points, or 1.2 percent, to 5,007 on Thursday, but finished up 5.5 percent on the year. The S&P 500 and Dow dipped in 2015 – their first annual declines since ’08; the Nasdaq rose 5.7%.

“This really undermines those expectations for the new year to be that year of improvement”, said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel.

Apple fell for the fourth time in five days to extend its 2015 retreat to 4.6 per cent, its worst since 2008. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.5 percent to 5,295.90 and India’s Sensex gained 0.1 percent to 25,980.85.

Stocks to watch: Energy stocks led gainers on the S&P 500, with shares of Southwestern Energy Co.(SWN) up 13%.

The West Texas Intermediate for February delivery moved up 44 cents to settle at 37.04 US dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for February delivery increased 82 cents to close at 37.28 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange. Technology stocks were among the biggest decliners. Energy shares posted the biggest losses, with Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Consol Energy Corp. tumbling at least 77 percent. So too did weak USA corporate earnings and a surge in yields on low-quality, or “junk” corporate bonds as investors pared back risk-taking.

– Gold posted its third consecutive annual loss, falling more than 10%.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.27%. The dollar gained 11.4% against the euro.

Crude oil and natural gas prices recovered some of their losses from the day before. The Italian market rallied 12.6%, German stocks rose 9.6% and France was up 8.5%, all measured in euros.

Energy stocks have taken a beating this year, with the S & P energy sector losing almost 24 per cent, followed by a near 10 per cent loss in materials.

Futures Rise, Shanghai Rises 9.4% in 2015

 

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