Stock Market Today: Stocks Bounce as Oil Prices Crumble

Stocks closed higher Wednesday as bargain hunters swooped in following a lengthy stretch of losses for the major indexes.

Today’s positive price action came as the 10-year Treasury yield eased back from yesterday’s two-month high, finishing down 6.7 basis points at 3.273%. A basis point is one-one hundredth of a percentage point. 

And the buying persisted even after Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard said in an early afternoon speech that the central bank is “in this for as long as it takes to get inflation down.” The Fed will meet later this month, with the market largely pricing in the probability of a third straight 75 basis-point rate hike.

Nearly all sectors finished higher, with utilities (+3.1%) and consumer discretionary stocks (+3.1%) leading the charge. The one outlier was energy, which slumped 1.2% as U.S. crude futures tumbled 5.7% to $81.94 per barrel – their lowest close since Jan. 11, according to Dow Jones Market Data – amid expectations of slowing global economic growth. “Oil’s breakdown today is a bigger shot across the bow, pointing to further struggles ahead in our opinion,” says Dan Wantrobski, technical strategist and associate director of research at Janney Montgomery Scott. “We believe the commodity can break below $80 from here, targeting the mid-$70s range in the weeks ahead.”

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As for the major indexes, the Nasdaq Composite jumped 2.1% to 11,791 – snapping its seven-day losing streak, its longest one since 2016. The S&P 500 Index (+1.8% at 3,979) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+1.4% at 31,581) also notched impressive gains.

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 spiked 2.2% to 1,832.
  • Gold futures gained 0.7% to finish at $1,727.80 an ounce.
  • Bitcoin rose as high as $19,183, before backtracking to $19,011.19, up 1% from this time yesterday. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)
  • Twitter (TWTR) rose 6.6% after a report in The Wall Street Journal said a Delaware judge ruled that Elon Musk is allowed to include whistleblower allegations against the social media company in his countersuit. However, the judge denied Musk’s request to push the trial back to November from its currently scheduled date of Oct. 17. Twitter is suing Musk over his attempt to walk away from a $44 billion deal to buy the company, while the Tesla (TSLA) CEO in a countersuit has accused TWTR of misrepresenting key metrics for its business. “Although we believe the whistleblower comments do provide Musk some hope in the upcoming trial while adding a slightly greater deal of uncertainty, we think it will ultimately be moot and continue to see a high probability that TWTR will be victorious in the courts,” says CFRA Research analyst Angelo Zino (Hold). “We still think the most likely outcome is a purchase of TWTR by Musk, either forced by the courts or a settlement at less than a 15%-20% discount.”
  • Coupa Software (COUP) jumped 17.9% after the company, who offers cloud-based business spend management software, reported earnings. In its second quarter, COUP saw quarterly subscription revenues spike 23% year-over-year to a record $193 million, which helped boost total revenue 18% to $211 million. The firm also said its board of directors approved a $100 million stock buyback program. UBS Global Research analyst Taylor MicGinnis called the results “solid,” but kept a Neutral (Hold) rating on the stock, citing a “more reasonable” valuation at current levels given “limited visibility beyond high-teens growth near term.”

Stay Focused on the Bigger Picture

Uncertainty over the magnitude of the Federal Reserve’s next rate hike will continue to move markets until the central bank’s next policy meeting, scheduled for Sept. 20-21. That makes tomorrow morning’s speech from Fed Chair Jerome Powell a key event to watch, and one that could potentially spark more volatility for stocks.

But sage investors know these short-term ups and downs are merely noise when compared to the bigger picture. “In the end, the day-to-day machinations of the market only matter to the extent we allow them to,” says Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird. “Volatility and sell-offs – in all of their various shapes and sizes – are just a reality to bear for the long-term stock owner.” 

Indeed, investors can take advantage of the down days to gradually boost their core portfolio holdings. Not sure where to start? How about with these sturdy blue-chip stocks or by checking out some of Wall Street’s best dividend payers. For investors wanting a broader approach, may we suggest the Kip 25. This list of Kiplinger’s favorite low-cost mutual funds boast solid long-term performance records and managers with tenures to match. Check them out.

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