Stock Market News for September 20, 2016

Increase in oil prices and strong rise in home-builder confidence had a positive impact on key U.S. indexes. However, benchmarks closed mostly unchanged on Monday as investors refrained from making big bets ahead of the two-day policy meetings of the Fed and Bank of Japan (BOJ) starting today.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) decreased 3.63 points, to close at 18,120.17. The SP 500 fell only 0.04 points to close at 2,139.12. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 5,235.03 losing 0.2%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) decreased 0.4% to settle at 15.3. A total of around 9.3 billion shares were traded on Friday, significantly higher than the last 20-session average of 6.6 billion. Advancers outpaced declining stocks on the NYSE. For 66% stocks that advanced, 31% declined.

What Dragged the Benchmarks?

Investors are now focused on the two-day policy meeting of the Fed starting today. According to CME Groups’ FedWatch Tool, probability of a rate hike this month is only 12%. It is widely expected that the Fed might not make any change to its rates. However, investors will wait for Fed Chief Janet Yellen’s speech to find clues for further rate hikes this year.

Further, speculations that BOJ might opt for a further rate cut in its policy meeting led investors to keep a close watch on BOJ meeting.

What Boosted the Crude Prices?

During the weekend, military conflicts in Libya weighed on its crude exports. Moreover, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said that both OPEC and non-OPEC countries are nearing a deal to control crude production. Both these factors boosted crude prices.

However, crude prices pared some of its gains after Colonial Pipeline said that worries over supply disruptions from Gulf Coast refiners have faded. Also, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo said that the meeting between major oil producing nations is “an informal meeting” and “not a decision-making meeting.”

Nevertheless, WTI crude rose 0.6% to $43.30 per barrel. Brent crude also advanced 0.4% to $45.95 a barrel. Two energy-based companies, Chevron Corporation (CVX) and Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI) rose 0.2% and 2%, respectively. Chevron possess a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and Kinder Morgan have a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .

Homebuilder Sentiment Index Best in 11 Months

According to the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo, the builder sentiment increased from 59 in August to 65 in September, reaching its best level since Oct, 2015. This in turn, also had a positive impact on investor sentiment.

Stocks That Made Headlines Today

JetBlue Signs Mega Renewable Fuel Deal with SG Preston

JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) recently signed a deal with bio-energy company, SG Preston to buy hydro-processed esters and fatty acids (HEFA)-based renewable jet fuel from the latter. ( Read More)

Universal Forest Products Completes Acquisition of idX Corp

Universal Forest Products, Inc. (UFPI) recently announced that it has completed the acquisition of St. Louis, MO.-based custom merchandising solutions provider, idX Corp. ( Read More)

Encana Prices Shares Worth US$1 Billion in Public Offering

Encana Corporation (ECA) recently announced the pricing of its previously declared public share offering. (Read More)

ConocoPhillips to Sell Stake in Natuna Sea Block B to Medco

ConocoPhillips (COP) is on track to divest its entire 40% stake in an oil and gas production sharing block that it operates on the South Natuna Sea Block B off Indonesia. ( Read More)

Tesla Faces Four Lawsuits Related to SolarCity Merger

Tesla Motors, Inc.’s (TSLA) four shareholders have filed separate lawsuits against the company with regard to its $2.6 billion proposed acquisition of SolarCity Corporation (SCTY). ( Read More)

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