Updated: 12-19-2014

The Market at 04:10PM ET
Dow: +26.65… | Nasdaq: +16.98… | S&P: +9.44…
NASDAQ Vol: 2.15 bln… Adv: 1547… Dec: 1406…
NYSE Vol: 2.14 bln… Adv: 2023… Dec: 1111…

Moving the Market

S&P 500 enters -0.3% for December, but +2.9% for the week

Quadruple witching expected to boost volume

Chipmakers lag

Sector Watch
Strong: Energy, Health Care, Industrials, Technology, Materials
Weak: Consumer Discretionary, Consumer Staples, Financials, Telecom Services, Utilities

04:10PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market capped a strong week with an advance that sent the S&P 500 higher by 0.5% to extend its weekly gain to 3.4%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.2%) underperformed today, but the price-weighted index still managed to add 3.0% for the week.

After adding more than 88 points in the previous two sessions, the S&P 500 spent the first half of the day near its flat line, but climbed ahead of the close. Despite the sharp midweek surge, buying interest remained in place today with nine of ten sectors ending the day in the green.

The energy sector (+3.1%) finished in the lead and extended its weekly gain to 9.7%, which put the growth-sensitive group well ahead of the remaining sectors. Crude oil contributed to today's rally as the energy component settled higher by 5.4% at $57.10/bbl and continued its advance into the $58.00/bbl area in electronic trade.

Meanwhile, the other commodity-related sector-materials-ended in the second place with a solid gain of 1.2%. Steelmakers contributed to the advance with the Market Vectors Steel ETF (SLX 36.61, +1.05) climbing 3.0%.

Outside of energy and materials, only one other sectors was able to end ahead of the broader market. Industrials (+0.5%) rallied behind their top-weighted component-General Electric (GE 25.62, +0.48)-while transport stocks ended just behind the broader market. The Dow Jones Transportation Average climbed 0.4% with freight carriers pacing the advance.

Elsewhere, the health care sector (+0.4%) slipped behind the market into the close, but biotechnology outperformed. Juno Therapeutics (JUNO 35.00, +11.00) surged 45.8% in its debut, which represented the largest biotech IPO of the year. For its part, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 317.20, +3.23) rallied 1.0% and helped the Nasdaq Composite end just behind the broader market even as chipmakers lagged.

The PHLX Semiconductor Index shed 0.3% with Xilinx (XLNX 43.00, -0.70) falling 1.6% after Bank of America/Merrill Lynch downgraded the stock to 'Underperform' from 'Neutral.' As for the broader technology sector (+0.1%), the top-weighted group was kept behind the broader market by relative weakness in influential components like Apple (AAPL 111.78, -0.87), Intel (INTC 36.37, -0.65), and Visa (V 261.67, -2.49).

Shares of Visa were also partially responsible for the underperformance of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. However it wasn't just the top-priced listing that kept the index behind the S&P 500. Nike (NKE 94.84, -2.24) fell 2.3% after the company's below-consensus futures orders growth overshadowed better than expected earnings and revenue. Retail names in general displayed weakness with the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 94.13, -0.68) shedding 0.7%.

Treasuries climbed throughout the day and ended just below their highs. The benchmark 10-yr yield slipped four basis points to 2.17%.

Today's participation was well ahead of average, which was caused by quadruple witching. As a result more than 2.1 billion shares changed hands at the NYSE floor.

Investors did not receive any economic news today and Monday's data will be limited to the Existing Home Sales report (Briefing.com consensus 5.20 million), which will be released at 10:00 ET.
  • Nasdaq Composite +14.1% YTD 
  • S&P 500 +12.0% YTD 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average +7.4% YTD 
  • Russell 2000 +2.7% YTD 
Week in Review: Oil Remains in Focus

The major averages began the new week amid some old concerns. The S&P 500 settled lower by 0.6% while the Nasdaq Composite (-1.0%) underperformed, but most of the attention was directed to crude oil trading pits once again. After plunging nearly 4.0% on Friday and inviting questions about macroeconomic implications of the continued weakness, crude oil enjoyed an overnight rebound before resuming its downtrend. The energy component ended the pit session lower by 3.2% at $55.96/bbl and continued its retreat into the $55.50/bbl area in electronic trade. Similar to oil, European equities and U.S. equity futures rebounded in overnight action, but accelerated their retreat from highs once the U.S. cash market opened. All ten sectors finished the day in negative territory with heavily-weighted financials (-0.9%), health care (-0.9%), and consumer discretionary (-0.6%) keeping the market under pressure.

The stock market endured a volatile session on Tuesday with investors keeping one eye on the oil market and one on the dollar/ruble exchange rate. The Russell 2000 (-0.1%) registered the slimmest decline while the S&P 500 settled lower by 0.9% after failing to hold its 100-day (1988) and 50-day moving averages (2001). On Monday evening, the Central Bank of Russia hiked its key interest rate by 650-basis points to 17.0% with the move aimed at halting the recent freefall in the ruble. The news gave a brief boost to the Russian currency, but the ruble was down more than 18.0% against the dollar in the morning, which invited concerns about potential economic and financial risks stemming from the continued plunge. This sent participants scrambling in search of safe havens, which boosted Treasuries and the yen. Meanwhile in the commodity market, crude oil was down in excess of 2.5% this morning, but the energy component spiked off its low shortly after the start of the pit session. Oil was able to return to its flat line, but could not make a sustained move into the green, ending with a nine-cent loss at $55.87/bbl.

Stocks ended the Wednesday session with solid gains that were paced by the Russell 2000. The small-cap index jumped 3.1% while the S&P 500 settled higher by 2.0% with all ten sectors registering gains. Equities climbed through the first half of action and saw an extension of their rally in the afternoon once the FOMC released its latest policy directive. As expected by some, the Fed removed the "considerable time" language from its policy statement, but that reference was replaced with a call for "patience," which essentially conveyed the same message. Above all, Chair Yellen reiterated that the central bank will remain data-dependent and reserves the right to accelerate, or defer, a rate hike in accordance with what the data are communicating about the progress being made toward the Fed's dual mandate. The policy statement was followed by volatile action in the bond market, but Treasuries slid to lows into the close. The benchmark 10-yr yield spiked eight basis points to 2.14%. As for equities, the energy sector (+4.2%) paced the advance and ended near its high even as crude oil slumped into the close, narrowing its gain to 1.0% at $56.44/bbl.

Equity indices ended the Thursday affair on their highs with the S&P 500 (+2.4%) extending its two-day advance to 88 points. The key averages started the Thursday session on a sharply higher note after equity futures received an early morning boost, which took place after the Swiss National Bank imposed negative deposit rates (-0.25%). The central bank said the move is aimed at lowering the three-month LIBOR below zero and European investors viewed the announcement as a prelude to a sovereign QE program from the European Central Bank. European equities, U.S. futures, and commodities rallied following the news, but crude oil fell victim to renewed selling interest after climbing above the $58.50/bbl level in the early morning. The energy component ended near its worst level of the day, down 4.0% at $54.19/bbl. For its part, the energy sector (+2.1%) displayed relative strength at the start, but was pressured from its high by the intraday weakness in crude. Marathon Oil (MRO) finished ahead of the sector, adding 3.3%, after lowering its 2015 capital, investment, and exploration budget by about 20.0% from this year's levels due to the recent plunge in the price of crude.
Dow: +26.65… | Nasdaq: +16.98… | S&P: +9.44…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1547/1406. …NYSE Adv/Dec 2023/1111.

03:35PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM]
  • WTI crude oil prices continued to soar higher in electronic trade, rising as high as $58.34/barrel
  • Jan crude oil finished today's session $2.91 higher at $57.10/barrel.
  • Natural gas futures sold off on a warm weather forecast, falling sharply
  • Jan nat gas ended $0.16 to $3.47/MMBtu
  • Precious metals showed very modest gains today
  • Feb gold gained $1.10 to $1196.00/oz, while Mar silver rose $0.10 to $16.03/oz
Dow: +91.60… | Nasdaq: +32.60… | S&P: +16.18…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1600/1146. …NYSE Adv/Dec 2232/890.

02:55PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 trades higher by 0.7% with one hour remaining in the session. The benchmark index spiked out of the gate, but spent the rest of the morning in a slow retreat towards its flat line. The slide from highs was halted just before 12:30 ET when the index turned around and climbed to a new session high.

All ten sectors are on track to end the day in the green with energy (+2.3%) on course to extend this week's gain to 8.9%. Meanwhile, crude oil has extended its advance to 5.9% at $57.45/bbl, which has helped the energy component swing from a weekly loss to a gain of 1.1%.
Dow: +88.23… | Nasdaq: +27.59… | S&P: +14.29…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1616/1221. …NYSE Adv/Dec 2125/978.

02:25PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 (+0.4%) has climbed into the neighborhood of its opening high as the subdued afternoon continues.

Sector standing has not changed much with energy (+1.7%) and materials (+1.0%) staying ahead of the rest of the market. Outside of the two groups, health care (+0.5%) and industrials (+0.4%) represent the only other outperformers while other influential groups like consumer discretionary (+0.2%), financials (+0.2%), and technology (+0.1%) have not been able to catch up to the market.

Elsewhere, Treasuries have inched back near their highs after a brief retreat from those levels during the past 90 minutes. The 10-yr yield is lower by four basis points at 2.18%.
Dow: +15.68… | Nasdaq: +16.64… | S&P: +7.12…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1545/1272. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1949/1140.

02:00PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 (+0.3%) continues trading ahead of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%).

The holiday-shortened week offers a condensed economic calendar. Highlights include durable goods orders, income and spending, and home sales.

The story of durable goods orders over the last few months has completely revolved around demand for aircraft. That trend likely continued in November. Boeing (BA) reported 224 aircraft orders in November. That was up from only 46 orders in October and was double the number of aircraft ordered in November 2013.

Retail sales in November increased 0.7%. That gain combined with high heating demand should boost overall consumer spending.

Over the last 12 months, new home sales have averaged 435,000 with very little volatility. A lack of supply and a high price premium have prevented the recovery in the new home sector from accelerating.
Dow: 3.48… | Nasdaq: 10.82… | S&P: 5.53…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1486/1306. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1886/1175.

01:30PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The major U.S. indices continue to float around break-even levels on the day.  
 
While volume continues to be heavy due to the quadruple witching today, volatility has been relatively limited in the session thus far.  
 
The year's final expected IPO, Juno Therapeutics (JUNO 38.46, +14.46), surged 63% in its debut after the company upsized its offering and priced shares at $24, above the already increased expected range of $21-23. Juno is a clinical immunotherapy company that is working to develop a treatment using a body's own immune system to detect and kill cancer cells. Today's successful public offering makes Juno the largest biotech IPO of the year.
Dow: +5.78… | Nasdaq: +10.40… | S&P: +4.64…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1451/1312. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1844/1213.

01:00PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages trade in mixed fashion at midday with the Nasdaq (+0.3%) and S&P 500 (+0.2%) holding slim gains while the Dow Jones Industrial Average sits on its flat line.

Equity indices have respected narrow ranges through the first half of action despite a volume spike that has been brought on by today's quadruple witching. More than 740 million shares have already changed hands at the NYSE floor, which puts the midday total not far behind the average full-day tally of 810 million.

Six of ten sectors trade in the green with energy (+1.0%) and materials (+0.9%) in the lead. The two commodity-related sectors have extended their respective week-to-date gains to 7.5% and 4.7%, respectively, which puts the two groups well ahead of the rest of the pack.

The energy sector has benefitted from a rebound in crude. The energy component has climbed steadily off its overnight low and currently trades up 3.5% at $56.26/bbl. As for influential sector members, Dow components Chevron (CVX 110.38, +1.35) and ExxonMobil (XOM 92.18, +1.01) are both up near 1.2%.

The relative strength in the two names has not been enough to keep the price-weighted Dow above its flat line. The index has been pressured by the likes of Visa (V 262.33, -1.83) and Nike (NKE 94.38, -2.70) with the latter trading lower by 2.8% after the company's below-consensus futures orders growth overshadowed better than expected earnings and revenue.

In addition to pressuring the Dow, shares of Nike have kept the discretionary sector (+0.1%) among the laggards. Major apparel retailers trade lower across the board while the broader SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT 93.85, -0.96) has given up 1.0%.

The discretionary sector represents just one of three laggards on the cyclical side. Financials (-0.1%) and technology (+0.1%) also trail the broader market with the tech sector pressured by chipmakers. The PHLX Semiconductor Index has given up 0.6%.

Microchip names also comprise a fair share of the Nasdaq, but the index has been able to resist the pressure thanks to the biotechnology group. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 315.57, +1.60) is higher by 0.5% while the health care sector (+0.4%) trades ahead of the broader market.

Treasuries hover just below their highs with the 10-yr yield lower by three basis points at 2.18%.

Investors did not receive any economic data today.
Dow: -8.05… | Nasdaq: +9.40… | S&P: +3.56…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1409/1336. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1761/1289.

12:30PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] Recent action saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.1%) return into negative territory while the S&P 500 (+0.1%) continues holding a slim gain.

The price-weighted Dow has dipped into the red as 15 of its 30 components trade in the red. The top-weighted sector component-Visa (V 262.47, -1.69)-trades lower by 0.6% while shares of Nike (NKE 94.00, -3.08) have surrendered 3.2% after the company's below-consensus futures orders growth overshadowed better than expected earnings and revenue.

On the upside, Chevron (CVX 110.39, +1.36) and DuPont (DD 73.14, +0.91) outperform with gains close to 1.3% apiece.
Dow: -19.50… | Nasdaq: +3.18… | S&P: +1.89…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1288/1441. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1665/1364.

12:00PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 (+0.3%) continues holding a modest gain with energy (+0.9%) and materials (+0.8%) maintaining the lead.

Elsewhere among cyclical sectors, consumer discretionary (unch), financials (unch), and technology (+0.2%) lag while the industrial sector (+0.4%) outperforms. Transport stocks have contributed to the relative strength with the Dow Jones Transportation Average trading higher by 0.4%. However, taking a deeper look into the bellwether complex reveals strength among trucking companies like CNW (CNW 47.55, +0.89) and CH Robinson (CHRW 74.95, +0.88) while airlines United Continental (UAL 63.57, -0.68) and Southwest Air Lines (LUV 40.29, -0.33) lag.

Also of note, Treasuries have built on their gains with the 10-yr yield now down three basis points at 2.18%.
Dow: +7.61… | Nasdaq: +12.57… | S&P: +5.49…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1340/1363. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1742/1273.

11:25AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] Not much change in the major averages with the S&P 500 (+0.3%) and Nasdaq (+0.3%) trading near their recent levels.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq was pressured by chipmakers and biotechnology in the early going, but the two groups have diverged since then. Chipmakers remain in the red with the PHLX Semiconductor Index lower by 0.4% while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 316.69, +2.72) trades higher by 0.9%.

Meanwhile, the health care sector trades higher by 0.4% today, and represents just one of three groups that have been able to register gains so far in December. The sector has added 1.6% while financials and utilities hold respective month-to-date gains of 1.7% and 2.5%.
Dow: +11.64… | Nasdaq: +13.51… | S&P: +5.64…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1265/1371. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1684/1292.

10:55AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] Recent action saw the Nasdaq (+0.2%) join the S&P 500 (+0.2%) in the green while the Russell 2000 (-0.2%) remains below its flat line. Despite today's underperformance, the small-cap index has added 3.3% this week, which matches the advance in the S&P 500. Furthermore, the S&P 500 has been able to erase its December loss and now trades flat for the month.

Eight sectors trade in the green at this juncture while the two decliners-consumer staples and utilities-sport losses of no more than 0.2%. On the upside, the materials sector (+0.9%) leads while energy (+0.7%) follows right behind despite showing some relative weakness at the start. The growth-sensitive group has been underpinned by crude oil, which trades higher by 3.6% at $56.33/bbl.

Elsewhere, Treasuries remain just below their highs with the 10-yr yield down two basis points at 2.19%.
Dow: +11.04… | Nasdaq: +7.54… | S&P: +4.55…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1153/1435. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1635/1310.

10:35AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM]
  • Natural gas futures sold off over 5% this morning on forecasts for warmer weather, pulling prices down to a level not seen since November 2013
    • Front-month natural gas (Jan) fell as low as $3.46/MMBtu and is now trading -4.0% at $3.50/MMBtu
  • WTI crude oil has been in positive territory all day so far and are now trading +3% at $56.00/barrel
    • Near its HoD
  • Silver has been climbing higher this morning, while gold has been trading with a modest gain.
  • Mar silver is now +0.7% at $16.05, while Feb gold is +0.3% at $1198.70/oz. Silver is also at its HoD
Dow: +45.94… | Nasdaq: +14.15… | S&P: +8.06…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 1218/1308. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1678/1226.

09:55AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 hovers just above its flat line while the Russell 2000 (-0.3%) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.1%) trail the benchmark index.

The Nasdaq has been pressured by biotechnology and chipmakers. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 311.82, -2.15) and the PHLX Semiconductor Index both trade with losses close to 0.7% apiece.

Elsewhere, the technology sector (+0.1%) remains in the green despite the underperformance among chipmakers. Top-weighted sector components trade in mixed fashion with Apple (AAPL 112.27, -0.39) lower by 0.4% while IBM (IBM 159.32, +1.64) trades higher by 1.0%.
Dow: -25.31… | Nasdaq: -6.37… | S&P: +1.06…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 963/1420. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1553/1239.

09:45AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 (+0.1%) has climbed out of the gate amid gains in nine of ten sectors. Telecom services (+0.4%) and materials (+0.5%) began the day in the lead, but it is worth noting that the two groups represent just over 5.0% of the entire market.

Meanwhile, influential sectors like technology (+0.1%), financials (+0.1%), industrials (+0.1%), and health care (+0.2%) trade in-line with or just ahead of the benchmark index.

On the downside, the energy sector is lower by 0.3% even as crude oil trades higher by 2.7% at $55.81/bbl.

Treasuries have extended their advance with the 10-yr yield now down two full basis points at 2.19%.
Dow: -11.64… | Nasdaq: -7.80… | S&P: +1.34…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 802/1503. …NYSE Adv/Dec 1416/1351.

09:12AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: +6.70. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +4.00. The stock market is on track for a modestly higher open that should help the S&P 500 retrace a portion of its December loss. The benchmark index ended yesterday's session with a month-to-date loss of 0.3%, but that masks the fact that the index has spiked nearly 3.0% so far this week.

The S&P 500 should add to its week-to-date gain at the start considering futures on the benchmark index remain seven points above fair value after sliding from their highs. However, it would not be surprising to see some added volatility today with quadruple witching taking place. At the very least, this will cause a notable increase in trading volume.  

On the corporate front, Nike (NKE 95.70, -1.38) is on track to open lower by 1.4% after its below-consensus futures orders growth overshadowed better than expected earnings and revenue. Elsewhere, Red Hat (RHT 68.25, +6.75) is indicated to open higher by 11.0% after beating earnings and revenue expectations.

Treasuries hold modest gains with the 10-yr yield lower by almost two basis points at 2.20%.

08:58AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: +6.00. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +6.20. The S&P 500 futures trade six points above fair value.

Markets rallied across Asia as the Fed-induced enthusiasm on Wall Street traveled across the Pacific. The Bank of Japan kept policy on hold and said inflation could dip to 1.0% into March due to low oil prices.
  • Economic data was limited: 
    • Japan's All Industries Activity Index ticked down 0.1% month-over-month (expected 0.2%; previous 1.4%) 
    • Hong Kong's current account deficit of HKD8.08 billion swung to a surplus of HKD43.30 billion 
    • New Zealand's ANZ Business Confidence slipped to 30.4% from 31.5% 
------
  • Japan's Nikkei jumped 2.4% to post its biggest gain since Halloween. Heavyweights Softbank and Fast Retailing provided support, rising 2.4% and 2.3%, respectively. 
  • Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 1.3% as part of its second consecutive day of buying after hitting seven-month lows on Wednesday. Financials led AIA Group gained 3.4% and Bank of Communications added 2.6%. 
  • China's Shanghai Composite climbed 1.7% to its best levels since November 2010. Aluminum maker Chalco surged the limit, 10%, after announcing intentions to sell non-core assets. 
  • India's Sensex climbed 0.9%, gaining for the second day in a row, but struggled to reclaim the 50-day average. Commodity plays were strong as Hindalco Industries jumped 3.2% and Reliance Industries added 2.3%. 
Major European indices trade mostly lower with Italy's MIB (-1.3%) showing the largest decline. According to Reuters, the ECB is looking into ways of making weaker eurozone countries bear a larger portion of the risk associated with a sovereign QE program. The same countries would stand to benefit most from asset purchases.
  • In economic data: 
    • Eurozone Current Account surplus narrowed to EUR20.50 billion from EUR32.00 billion (expected surplus of EUR27.40 billion) 
    • Germany's PPI was unchanged month-over-month (expected -0.2%; previous -0.2%) while the year-over-year reading fell 0.9% (expected -1.2%; previous -1.0%). Separately, GfK Consumer Climate improved to 9.0 from 8.7 (expected 8.8) 
    • UK's Public Sector Net Borrowing increased to GBP13.41 billion from GBP6.43 billion (expected GBP15.37 billion). Separately, CBI Distributive Trades Survey jumped to 61 from 27 (expected 31) 
    • French Business Survey held at 99, as expected 
    • Italy's Industrial New Orders rose 0.1% month-over-month (previous -1.5%) while Wage Inflation ticked up 0.1% month-over-month (prior 0.1%) 
------
  • UK's FTSE is higher by 0.4% with miners in the lead. Antofagasta and Randgold Resources hold gains close to 3.0% apiece. Consumer names lag with Diageo, Next, and Coca-Cola HBC down between 0.7% and 1.6%. 
  • In France, the CAC is lower by 0.7% with Alstom leading the decline. The stock has surrendered 3.5%. Financials trade in mixed fashion with AXA and Unibail-Rodamco sporting respective gains of 0.4% and 1.0% while Societe Generale trades lower by 2.1%. 
  • Germany's DAX has given up 0.9%. Influential index components lag with BMW, Deutsche Bank, and Bayer down between 1.1% and 1.7%. Henkel AG outperforms, trading higher by 1.6%. 
  • Italy's MIB leads to the downside with a 1.3% decline. Financials lag with BMPS, Intesa Sanpaolo, Unicredit, and Mediobanca holding losses between 2.6% and 4.0%.

08:30AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: +11.40. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +16.00. U.S. equity futures remain near their recent levels with the S&P 500 futures trading 11 points above fair value.

Thanks to yesterday's broad-based surge, the S&P 500 will enter today's session after having added 2.9% so far this week. That spike has helped the index eliminate the bulk of its December loss, but the S&P remains lower by 0.3% for the month. Of course, if the current indication holds, the S&P will retrace the bulk of that remaining month-to-date loss.

Meanwhile, the Russell 200 has surged 3.5% since last Friday, and the small-cap index is now higher by 1.6% for December.

07:57AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: +12.40. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +17.00. U.S. equity futures have slipped from their overnight highs, but they continue trading with solid gains. The S&P 500 futures hover 12 points above fair value. Markets across Asia followed yesterday's rally on Wall Street with a broad-based advance of their own; however, European indices have not followed suit as they trade mostly lower.

On the commodity front, crude oil has recovered a portion of yesterday's decline and currently trades higher by 1.4% at $54.85/bbl. Meanwhile, the Dollar Index (89.31, +0.08) holds a slim gain of 0.1%.

Treasuries sit just below their flat lines with the 10-yr yield at 2.22%.

Today's session will be free of economic data, but quadruple witching will be taking place, which could introduce additional volatility.

In U.S. corporate news of note:
  • BlackBerry (BBRY 9.65, -0.42): -4.2% after missing revenue estimates on better than expected earnings. 
  • Nike (NKE 94.50, -2.58): -2.7% after its below-consensus futures orders growth overshadowed better than expected earnings and revenue. 
  • Red Hat (RHT 68.00, +6.50): +10.6% after beating earnings and revenue expectations.
Reviewing overnight developments:
  • Asian markets ended higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng +1.3%, China's Shanghai Composite +1.7%, and Japan's Nikkei +2.4% 
    • Economic data was limited: 
      • Japan's All Industries Activity Index ticked down 0.1% month-over-month (expected 0.2%; previous 1.4%) 
      • New Zealand's ANZ Business Confidence slipped to 30.4% from 31.5% 
    • In news: 
      • The Bank of Japan made no changes to its policy stance, but did raise its assessment of Housing Investment, Exports, and Industrial Output
  • Major European indices trade mostly lower. France's CAC -0.3%, Germany's DAX -0.4%, and UK's FTSE +0.5%. Elsewhere, Italy's MIB -1.2% and Spain's IBEX -1.0% 
    • In economic data: 
      • Eurozone Current Account surplus narrowed to EUR20.50 billion from EUR32.00 billion (expected surplus of EUR27.40 billion) 
      • Germany's PPI was unchanged month-over-month (expected -0.2%; previous -0.2%) while the year-over-year reading fell 0.9% (expected -1.2%; previous -1.0%). Separately, GfK Consumer Climate improved to 9.0 from 8.7 (expected 8.8) 
      • UK's Public Sector Net Borrowing increased to GBP13.41 billion from GBP6.43 billion (expected GBP15.37 billion). Separately, CBI Distributive Trades Survey jumped to 61 from 27 (expected 31) 
      • French Business Survey held at 99, as expected 
      • Italy's Industrial New Orders rose 0.1% month-over-month (previous -1.5%) while Wage Inflation ticked up 0.1% month-over-month (prior 0.1%)
    • Among news of note:
      • According to Reuters, the ECB is looking into ways of making weaker eurozone countries bear a larger portion of the risk associated with a sovereign QE program

06:48AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] S&P futures vs fair value: +9.10. Nasdaq futures vs fair value: +12.80.

06:48AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] Nikkei...17621.40...+411.40...+2.40%.  Hang Seng...23116.63...+284.40...+1.30%.

06:48AM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] FTSE...6493.42...+27.40...+0.40%.  DAX...9774.79...-36.30...-0.40%.

04:10PM ET
[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the Thursday session on its high with the S&P 500 (+2.4%) extending its two-day advance to 88 points.

The key indices started the Thursday session on a sharply higher note after equity futures received an early morning boost, which took place after the Swiss National Bank imposed negative deposit rates (-0.25%). The central bank said the move is aimed at lowering the three-month LIBOR below zero and European investors viewed the announcement as a prelude to a sovereign QE program from the European Central Bank.

European equities, U.S. futures, and commodities rallied following the news, but crude oil fell victim to renewed selling interest after climbing above the $58.50/bbl level in the early morning. The energy component ended near its worst level of the day, down 4.0% at $54.19/bbl.

For its part, the energy sector (+2.1%) displayed relative strength at the start, but was pressured from its high by the intraday weakness in crude. Marathon Oil (MRO 27.56, +0.89) finished ahead of the sector, adding 3.3%, after lowering its 2015 capital, investment, and exploration budget by about 20.0% from this year's levels due to the recent plunge in the price of crude. The energy sector was the only group that could not climb above its morning high.

Outside of energy, consumer discretionary (+1.6%) and materials (+2.3%) were the only other cyclical groups that could not finish ahead of the broader market. A handful of quick-service restaurant names contributed to the underperformance of discretionary shares after Dunkin Brands (DNKN 43.05, -3.17) issued below-consensus guidance for fiscal year 2015. Shares of DNKN tumbled 6.9% while peers Krispy Kreme (KKD 18.98, -0.75) and Starbucks (SBUX 80.03, -0.41) lost 3.8% and 0.5%, respectively.

Elsewhere among cyclical sectors, technology (+3.0%) did some heavy lifting with a sizable assist from Oracle (ORCL 45.35, +4.19). The stock surged 10.2% in reaction to better than expected results while other large cap names like Apple (AAPL 112.65, +3.24), Microsoft (MSFT 47.52, +1.78), and IBM (IBM 157.68, +5.75) rallied between 3.0% and 3.9%.

Over on the countercyclical side, consumer staples (+2.0%), telecom services (+1.8%), and utilities (+2.0%) lagged while the health care sector (+2.8%) ended ahead of the broader market with help from biotechnology. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 313.97, +10.59) spiked 3.5%.

Treasuries ended the day just above their lows with the 10-yr yield higher by seven basis points at 2.21%.

Participation was well ahead of average with more than 950 million shares changing hands at the NYSE floor.

Economic data included Initial Claims, Leading Indicators, and the Philadelphia Fed Survey:
  • Initial jobless claims fell to 289,000 from a revised rate of 295,000 (from 294,000) while the Briefing.com consensus expected a decline to 292,000 
    • Continuing claims fell to 2.373 million from 2.520 million 
  • The Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook fell to 24.5 in December from 40.8 in November while the Briefing.com consensus expected a decline to 26.0 
    • While the index deteriorated across the board, it was coming off a high point that was simply not sustainable 
  • The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index increased 0.6% for a second consecutive month in November after a downward revision (from 0.9%) to the October data 
    • The Briefing.com Consensus expected an increase of 0.5% 
Tomorrow's session will be free of economic data.
  • Nasdaq Composite +13.7% YTD 
  • S&P 500 +11.5% YTD 
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average +7.3% YTD 
  • Russell 2000 +2.5% YTD
Dow: +421.28… | Nasdaq: +104.08… | S&P: +48.34…
NASDAQ Adv/Dec 2238/660. …NYSE Adv/Dec 2546/585.

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