Friday has turned out to be another quiet news day. Traders are focused on option expiration. The major stock indices are posting gains but a few sectors are seeing some profit taking. Financials, oil, airlines, and mining stocks are some of the worst performers today but losses have been relatively mild. The dollar is bouncing from its lows, which is putting some pressure on commodities.
Asian markets were down. The Japanese NIKKEI lost 0.7% and ended a three-day winning streak ahead of a five-day national holiday in Japan from September 19th through the 23rd. The Hong Kong Hang Seng lost 0.67%. The volatile Chinese Shanghai index fell as much as 3.9% and settled with a 3.19% decline. Steel stocks led the sell-off as local Chinese media speculated that the U.S.-China trade dispute might widen to include Chinese-made steel products.
European stocks were generally lower, pulling back from eleven-month highs. News that Goldman Sachs had raised their estimates and price targets on several European banks was not enough to keep the rally going. The German DAX and French CAC-40 indices both snapped a three-day winning streak with mild losses. The English FTSE is the exception with a 0.17% gain. This is the sixth gain in a row and the FTSE is now up 10 out of the last 11 sessions.
It has been a relatively quiet session for U.S. stocks. Investors have been focused on quadruple-witching option and futures expiration. Equity options expire every month but four times a year there is a convergence of expirations for equity options, index options, index futures, and single-stock futures.
The Labor Department came out with some details on the unemployment situation. 27 states said their unemployment numbers rose in August. There are 14 states where unemployment is already above 10%. Michigan is hitting new records. Unemployment in Michigan hit 15.2% in August. It was the first time any state had seen unemployment rise over 15% since 1984. Rounding out the top five were Nevada, Rhode Island, California, and Oregon, all with unemployment between 12.2-13.2%. Economists still expect unemployment to rise past 10% even as the economy begins to recover and see positive growth.
Looking back at the market the U.S. dollar is bouncing from its 2009 lows. This is putting pressure on commodities. Gold, which hit new highs this week is down about $3 to 1,010 an ounce. Crude oil is down about 50 cents to $71.97 a barrel. Silver is down two days in a row after hitting new highs for the year above $17. Copper prices are down and trading near the bottom of its multi-week trading range.
Currently the S&P 500 index is up less than five points at 1070. The NASDAQ composite is up about 11 points at 2137. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up almost 60 points at 9842. The small cap Russell 2000 index is up less than three points at 618.
Let's take a quick look at charts for the major averages:
Chart of the S&P 500:
Chart of the NASDAQ:
Chart of the Dow Industrials:
Chart of the Russell 2000 index:
Scanning the OptionInvestor.com play list for movers I see that ACL is inching over round-number resistance at $140.00. CMP is showing some relative strength with a 2% gain. GWR, a railroad stock, is bouncing and currently up 2.2%. RIMM is also bouncing with a 1.4% gain near $84.