Grim Week: Stocks Sink 2% in Election-Week Selloff


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Wall Street ended the week deep in negative territory as traders fretted about the looming fiscal cliff on the heels of U.S. elections that did little change the status quo in Washington.

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Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4.1 points, or 0.03%, to 12815, the S&P 500 gained 2.3 points, or 0.17%, to 1380 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 9.3 points, or 0.32%, to 2905.

With the U.S. elections out of the way, Wall Street is looking squarely at Washington, D.C. for answers on how politicians will overcome deep ideological schisms on how to get the nation's fiscal house back in order. Thus far, traders have sold into the uncertainty.

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all shed more than 2% over the course of the week. The Dow and Nasdaq are both at late July levels, while the S&P 500 is at its lowest point since early August. Conversely, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond has slumped to its lowest level since October 3 as traders have bought up the safe-haven asset.

President Barack Obama delivered his first speech at the White House following his re-election victory. The President vowed to continue pursuing a bargain on the fiscal cliff -- a set of painful spending cuts and tax hikes that go into effect in January. However, he said tax increases on America's highest earners need to be part of the negotiations, a point of contention among Republicans. Indeed, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the highest ranking Republican, spoke before Obama, saying he was willing to compromise but any plan should keep tax rates steady.

On the economic front, a reading on consumer sentiment from Reuters and the University of Michigan for early November rose to 84.9 from 82.6 in October, topping expectations for a reading of 83. The reading was the highest since July 2007. The measure often has a market impact, especially within the consumer discretionary and consumer staples sectors.

Wholesale inventories jumped 1.1% in September on a month-to-month basis, far bigger than the 0.4% increase expected. Generally, rising inventories are seen as a sign that firms are expecting greater sales and tends to be bullish for economic growth.

A separate report showed U.S. import prices rose 0.5% in October from September while export prices remained unchanged. Economists were expecting import prices to remain unchanged and export prices to rise 0.2%.

In Europe, talks between Greece and the European Union and International Monetary fund over a crucial aid package dragged on. A decision may not be made next week on a $40 billion rescue package, according to a report by Bloomberg News. However, the country is still unlikely to default on a debt payment that is also due next week, the report that cites unnamed sources said.

Commodities markets were to the upside. The benchmark crude oil contract jumped 98 cents, or 1.2%, to $86.07 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline soared 3.5% to $2.70 a gallon.

Gold rose $4.90, or 0.28%, to $1,731 a troy ounce.

Foreign Markets

The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.03% to 2480, the English FTSE 100 dipped 0.11% to 5770 and the German DAX slipped 0.58% to 7164.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 skidded lower by 0.9% to 8758 and the Chinese Hang Seng dropped 0.85% to 2241.