Waiting For Dr. Yellen - Markets This Morning

  • Trading was slow due to the Jewish Holiday
  • Prices drifted lower anticipating a decision on interest rates on Thursday
  • Oil was down, and some oil stocks are trading for pennies on the dollar

The Federal Reserve decision on whether to raise interest rates by .25% happens Thursday afternoon on the East Coast. Meanwhile, traders are quietly selling out of speculative issues and raising cash, to be ready for whatever happens.

Stocks went down to nearly their closing price within the first half-hour of trading, then bounced up-and-down from there all day. On the day the Dow (INDEX:INDU) was down 62.13 or .38% to finish at 16,371, the S&P (INDEX:SPAL) was down 8.02 or .41% to finish at 1,953, and the Nasdaq (INDEX:COMPX) was down 16.58 or .34% to finish at 4,806.

Most of the big tech stocks fell about 1%, including Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Oracle (NYSE:ORCL). An exception was Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which finished up almost 1% after telling investors that demand for its new iPhone 6s phones is strong.

Tesla Gets a Boost

It wasn’t all bad news. Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) rose 1.18%, or $2.95 per share, to finish at $253.19. The move was purely speculative. Most of the news around the stock was bad, about German and Chinese automakers gunning for it, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) hiring a former Audi executive, Jeff Krafcik, to run its self-driving car efforts. Krafcik’s most recent job was at TrueCar, a Web site that claims to find accurate prices on used cars.

The only theory that makes sense, other than the Los Angeles cops buying some Tesla police cars, is that the moves by rivals, taken together, represent validation for the ideas of electric and self-driving vehicles, and an acknowledgement that Tesla now leads in the former category.

Currencies and Oil

The dollar mostly drifted, losing .14% against the Euro, .34% against the Japanese Yen, .02% against the British pound and even .06% against the Canadian dollar. 

Energy prices were down, with West Texas Intermediate finishing down 44 cents to finish at $44, and Brent finishing down 75 cents to finish at $48.14. This happened despite OPEC crowing that the U.S. shale oil boom is over with rig counts falling steadily and production falling 300,000 barrels per day between January and August, and expectations that production will fall 500,000 barrels/day next year.

Alberta is suffering a severe cash crunch because producers can’t get back enough money to service their loans and OPEC predicting growth in demand will slow even further next year.

Most oil production stocks continued to fall. Comstock Resources (NYSE:CRK), worth $21.44 less than a year ago, is now selling for $2.42. Penn Virginia (NYSE:PVA), worth over $13.50 a year ago, is now on sale at 81 cents. Lucas Energy (NYSEMKT:LEI)  name sponsor on the Indianapolis Colts’ stadium, finished at $2.77, down from $16 a year ago.

So What Happens Now?

Expect more of this downward drift until traders know which way to move. And as with the jobless report a week ago, where traders decided to sell despite getting a weak number they thought would prevent a rate hike, some people are going to want to sell no matter what the Fed decides to do.


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