U.S. stocks are ending the year in the red as the weekly initial jobless claims were higher than expected. Today’s count of 287,000 filing for jobless claims exceeded the estimate of 270,000. Continuing claims also jumped to 2.198 million from 2.195 million.
The S&P 500 fell 11 points to 2,051, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by 105 points to 17,497 and the Nasdaq was sliding 24 points to 5,041.
Bruce Berkowitz, the largest outside shareholder at Sears, may be taking more of an activist role. Berkowitz’s Fairholme Capital Management disclosed in a filing on Tuesday that it has bought an additional 390,100 shares since Christmas Eve. Capital Management now owns a 26 percent stake in the company. Fairholme has stated in a filing that it will be in touch with Sears management and the board as well as other significant shareholders regarding its views on Sears’ long-term prospects. Sears stock is down 16 cents to $20.13 this morning.
Weight Watchers stock is gaining value as Oprah Winfrey’s first commercials for the company have begun airing. The media star purchased 10 percent of the company in October causing the stock to jump back then. The new ad campaign is just reminding investors of the commitment she is making to the company. Weight Watchers stock is up more than 4 percent this morning to $24.03.
Oil is back to selling and is now 10 cents lower this morning to $36.50. Crude inventories continue to build and it doesn’t look like that is about to change anytime soon. Don’t be surprised if consumers in petro dollar economies start cutting back on spending as many of these countries pegged their budgets on higher priced oil.
Gold, which is normally a safe haven when oil drops, is losing its luster as well. Gold looks to be closing out 2015 with its third-straight annual loss. It will end the year with a 10 percent drop in value. The decline is blamed on the dollar’s surge in value.
The International Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, starts next week in Las Vegas. Wearable tech devices are expected to be a big theme along with home solutions, car technology and consumer drones.
Puerto Rico will not be making two of its 13 debt payments that are due on Jan. 1 — a $35.9 million payment on the Infrastructure Financing Authority and a $1.4 million payment to the Public Finance Corporation. Insurance companies with exposure to the country are being watched.
Asian markets ended the year on a lower note. China’s Shanghai Composite lost 0.9 percent for the day, but ended the year with a 9.4 percent gain. Pretty amazing considering how much value was lost during the summer. In Europe, the French and German markets are closed, while the U.K. FTSE fell by 0.4 percent.