Stocks got battered on the last trading day of the year as the sideways churn of the last few months continued. The S&P 500 closed down by 1% on the day and finished the year with a 23.45% gain. Volume on the day was very light and investors were very eager to snatch up protection ahead of the new year as the VIX spiked almost 10% higher. The dollar traded higher on the day after stronger than expected jobless claims – a sign that investors could be anticipating rate increases in the coming year. Daily Futures wraps up the final day of the year:
The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims fell 22,000 last week to 432,000, less than expected and the lowest level in 17 months. The March 2011 eurodollars were down .08 at 98.07.
Yesterday, it was reported that the Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index hit 60.0 in December, but that was revised down today, to 58.7.
The March U.S. T-bonds fell a half-point to 115.12/32nds, weighed down by record Treasury sales. The March S&P 500 will end up roughly 25% in 2009.
Grains and Cotton
The USDA said that, as of last week, 2009-2010 exports of:
Corn improved from up 1% to up 3% from a year ago.
Soybeans improved from up 37% to up 38% from a year ago.
Wheat improved from down 29% to down 28% from a year ago.
Cotton remained down 37% from a year ago.
March cotton closed up .17 at 75.60.
March soybeans ended up 4 cents at $10.485 with ongoing support from strong exports to China.
After yesterday’s close, the USDA said that there were 65.807 million hogs and pigs in inventory as of December 1st, down 2% from a year ago, but a little more than expected. February hogs were higher most of the day, but ended down .02 at 65.60.
The USDA said that net sales of beef totaled 5,800 tons last week, up from 3,500 tons the previous week. February cattle jumped up 1.12 to 86.17, boosted by the current stretch of bitter cold in the north-central U.S.
After the close, Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain of the University of Missouri said that consumer demand in January to November was up 3.1% from a year ago for pork, but down 2.7% for beef.
The ten-day forecast for central Florida from Weather.com shows temperatures dipping into the 30’s from tomorrow morning until Tuesday morning. No significant damage to the citrus crop is expected. March orange juice fell 7.85 cents to $1.2905.
The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were down 124 billion cubic feet last week to 2.897 trillion cubic feet, a smaller draw than expected. Supplies are now up 13% from a year ago. March natural gas closed down 15.3 cents at $5.532.
It has been quite a year for gold, thanks largely to the financial crisis and Federal Reserve’s commitment to keep the federal funds rate near zero. February gold closed up $3.70 at $1,096.20, roughly $200 above its price a year ago.
House prices in the U.K. were up .4% in December, the eighth consecutive increase. For all of 2009, house prices were up 5.9%.
Happy New Year! Hello 2010.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.