The U.S. stock market is quietly drifting sideways since no one wants to rock the boat before the year ends. A bounce in the dollar is putting pressure on commodities although copper hit new highs overnight. Crude oil is nearly unchanged on the session near $78.80 a barrel while gold futures are down more than $8 to $1,099 an ounce.
Asian markets were green across the board but gains in Japan and Hong Kong were extremely small. The Japanese NIKKEI oscillated on either side of unchanged all day and closed at 10,638 for a +0.04% gain. Today marks the 20-year anniversary of the NIKKEI's all-time high of 38,915. The Hong Kong Hang Seng index also traded in a narrow range and closed with a 0.09% gain. The Chinese Shanghai index posted a 0.7% gain.
European markets managed to extend their rally but stocks pared their gains sharply in the last hour of trading. Energy and financials underperformed while mining stocks showed relative strength on a new 15-month high in copper. News that workers at Codelco's Chuquicamata copper mine in Chile had voted to strike sent copper prices higher overnight. According to one official a strike is "imminent" and this particular location is the second largest copper mine on the planet. At the end of the day the English FTSE rose 0.65%. The French CAC-40 rose 0.33%. The German DAX managed a 0.14% gain.
In the U.S. the markets were digesting better consumer confidence numbers and a lackluster reading on home prices. The Conference Board released their Consumer Confidence index for December, which rose to 52.9 slightly ahead of expectations. This is an improvement over November's 50.6 and October's 48.7. Consumer expectations for the job market improved from 15.8% to 16.2%. Yet the present situation gauge fell to a 26-year low.
Home prices are always closely watched and the S&P/Case-Shiller index of the top 20 cities in the U.S. saw prices rise 0.4% in October. This was the fifth monthly gain in a row. Yet only 11 of the 20 cities saw gains and only 7 saw back-to-back monthly gains. Year over year the index is down 7.3% and still down about 30% from its 2006 peak.
Chart of the S&P 500:
Chart of the NASDAQ:
Chart of the Dow Industrials:
Chart of the Russell 2000 index:
I am not seeing much movement on the OptionInvestor.com play list but that's not surprising with the stock market moving sideways in a narrow range. The rest of the week could be quiet as investors wait for the quarter and the year to end.