Markets closed up on Wall Street today: Dow +0.18%, S&P +0.04%, Nasdaq -0.05%, Oil -0.54%, Gold -0.17%.
On the commodities front, Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $93.45 a barrel. Precious metals were mixed, with Gold (NYSE:GLD) down slightly to $1,744.80 an ounce while Silver (NYSE:SLV) gained just 0.02% to settle at $35.12.
Today’s markets were up because:
1) Europe. While news out of a summit in Brussels, where European leaders hammered out a plan to combat the region’s debt crisis, had markets up yesterday, some version of that same news is responsible for their lackluster performance today. As is the trend, investors got a little ahead of themselves with the enthusiasm, only to come to the realization that the details of the plan are rather fuzzy and Europe’s problems aren’t over just yet. Furthermore, Europe pitched its euro-zone deal to China (NYSE:FXI) today with the arrival of Klaus Regling, chief executive of the European Financial Stability Facility, in Beijing. China has yet to decide whether they will participate in the fund. In a news conference, Regling said “no conclusion, certainly, today during our visit” would occur. And it’s that neither-here-nor-there news that left markets unsure of where to land.
2) Consumers. The final reading of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for October rose to 60.9, just slightly better than expectations. This report follows news yesterday that consumer spending was up during the third quarter, giving the economy a significant boost, considering consumer spending accounts for roughly 70% of the U.S. gross domestic product. Profits for companies on the S&P 500 rose an average of 16% during the last quarter, based on results reported so far, with third-quarter earnings beating analysts’ predictions by 5.5%, compared to a rate of 3.3% since 2005.
3) Energy. Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) reported net income of $7.83 billion, or $3.92 per share. Expectations were for a profit of $3.47 per share. Chevron was one of the few stocks performing well today. Investors will want to keep an eye on its competitors Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM), Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), and Total (NYSE:TOT).