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In Case You Missed the Weekend

All eyes are on Japan


Good News/Bad News:
  • The week finished on Friday with a modest rally that was significant for the Dow recapturing 12,000 and the S&P 500 getting back above 1300 — both levels were lost on Thursday, when the market closed to five-month lows. There were enough glass-half-empty bits of economic data from abroad that drifted into investors’ consciousness from China, Japan and Europe to sap the confidence that a new high in stocks this year was going to happen anytime soon. (Although, of course, it always could). Early in the week, the price of oil continued to be the single most important factor in determining the direction of equities. At one point on Monday, crude nearly touched $107 a barrel. For the rest of the week, oil traded sideways until it fell on Thursday and Friday, when, unfortunately some of the above factors started to mess with investors’ heads. At last check, oil had moved below $100 a barrel. Bigger news than any of this, of course, and no small part of the Asian market dynamic is the continued mess in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami, which also has added a possible nuclear power plant catastrophe to the mix. Japan’s Nikkei Index slipped 5% in its first 10 minutes of trading on Monday.
  • For investors here, the tone from Asia should say a lot about the start to Monday’s trading day, as no significant domestic economic data is on tap. Chevron (NYSE:CVX) holds an analyst meeting.

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