Wall Street Jumps as Oil Prices Turn Green


U.S. equities jumped on Tuesday fueled by a rally in oil prices and a slew of corporate earnings results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 281 points, or 1.77% to 16166. The S&P 500 gained 26 points, or 1.41% to 1903, while the Nasdaq Composite jumped 49 points, or 1.09% to 4567.

The energy sector jumped nearly 5%, followed by materials and telecommunications. All 10 S&P 500 sectors traded in positive territory.

Today’s Markets

A renewed rally in oil prices and a fresh flood of quarterly earnings results helped push the major averages on Wall Street higher for the session.

The Dow, which saw the most significant gains, was boosted by names including 3M (NYSE:MMM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Exxon (NYSE:XOM), and Boeing (NYSE:BA).

The energy sector saw gains of more than 3% on the session as crude oil prices rallied after weeks of volatile trading. West Texas Intermediate crude and Brent crude, the global benchmarks, traded above $31 a barrel in Tuesday’s action, rebounding slightly off of fresh 12-year lows hit last week.

WTI settled up 3.66% to $31.45 a barrel, while Brent climbed 4.26% to $31.80 a barrel, after trading about $32.

The moves come as traders around the world hope OPEC and non-OPEC members move closer to a deal to alleviate the supply glut that has plagued the markets for nearly two years. On Tuesday, Reuters reported Iraq’s oil minister saw “some flexibility” for a deal – welcome remarks after international sanctions on Iran were lifted two weeks ago, allowing more supply to flood the already saturated market at the same time high-cost producers prove resilient in the wake of worldwide oversupply.

Chris Beauchamp, IG senior market analyst, warned though that the talk among oil producers allows the price of oil to move up so that bears can hit the sell button once again.

“Rallies in oil in recent months have only lasted a few days, and once talks of a deal dries up, the way will be clear for the downtrend to resume,” he said.

John Canally, chief economic strategist at LPL Financial, said the bottom line is there hasn’t been a fundamental change in the market to cause a sustained move higher.

“Has anything fundamental changed in the oil market from noon time on January 20 when oil was at $26 a barrel and today when it was above $32? No. What you have her is a lot of traders trading back and forth…probably every other asset class is beholden to what’s happening in oil and until that dislodges, oil will be the primary driver for the market,” he said.

Meanwhile, two of the Dow’s biggest gainers reported fourth-quarter earnings results ahead of the opening bell.

Johnson & Johnson revealed mixed results as earnings came in at $1.44 a share on an adjusted basis, which was two cents above consensus expectations. Revenue declined during the period to $17.81 billion, mostly in line with forecasts. The company also added that it sees 2016 sales below Street views thanks in part to persisting currency headwinds. But the company’s CEO on the earnings call said it will remain very active in mergers and acquisitions.

Post-It maker 3M, meanwhile, revealed a beat on both lines in the fourth quarter and reaffirmed its 2016 forecast of 1% to 3% sales growth as it aims to cut jobs in order to keep costs low. The results helped catapult the company into one of the top five Dow gainers on the session.

After the closing bell, tech titan Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was set to pull the wraps off its fiscal first-quarter results. Wall Street expects to see earnings per share of $3.23 on sales of $76.66 billion. For the holiday quarter, analysts also forecast the iPhone maker to reveal phone unit sales of 75.5 million, up from 74.5 million in the same period of 2015.

Canally said earnings season is a welcome respite from the macro headlines that have driven the markets through the last part of 2015 and caused a startling beginning to 2016.

“What you’re looking for is limited spillover from China, the strong dollar, and oil,” he said. “We’re hearing from corporations is that dollar headwinds are abating and not seeing too much hit to sales from China, then I think that’s the best you can hope for.”

Elsewhere in corporate news, AIG (NYSE:AIG) said it would spin off its mortgage insurance unit and sell its AIG Advisor Group, a broker-dealer network, as it looks to fend off activist pressure from billionaire investor Carl Icahn and maximize shareholder value In addition, the company said it would make sweeping changes to its operational structure allowing an easier track to take individual units or businesses public should they underperform.

The announcement comes as the biggest insurer by premiums plans to slash $1.6 billion in costs, and return at least $25 billion to its shareholders over the next two years.

On the macro front, traders parsed data from the Conference Board, which showed consumer confidence improved slightly from December. The gauge rose to 98.1 in January from a revised December reading of 96.3. Economists expected a shallower rise to 96.5.

Meanwhile, housing data from S&P/Case-Shiller showed home prices in 20 major U.S. metro areas rose 0.1% in November from the month prior on a non-seasonally-adjusted basis, matching expectations, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. From the same period a year prior, prices saw a 5.8% increase, slightly above expectations for a 5.7% rise.

Traders will also keep an eye on the start of the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy setting meeting which began Tuesday, and will be followed by a statement Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. ET. After an historic decision to raise rates for the first time in nearly a decade in December, the central bank said it planned to raise rates three to four more times this year in its statement last month,  however, some wonder whether the Fed actually jumped the gun as the global market and economic backdrop have become more volatile, and U.S. equities saw their worst start to a new year ever.