It was a great day to be a stock market investor today.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 15,884 (+129.2, +0.8%)
- S&P 500: 1,786.5 (+11.2, +0.6%)
- Nasdaq: 4,029.5 (+28.5, +0.7%)
And now the top stories :
- Earlier today, we learned industrial production jumped 1.1% in November, smashing expectations for a 0.6% gain. October's numbers were also revised higher. "Alongside an upward revision to October (now 0.5%, previously 0.3%), manufacturing output looks set to register its strongest quarter since the beginning of 2012, with growth tracking an annualized 5.6% q/q in Q4, based on October and November, up from 1.4% in Q3," noted Barclays' Peter Newland.
- "Some of the rise was due to a 1.7% m/m gain in mining output, which won’t be repeated as it was a result of oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico reopening after tropical storm Karen," said Capital Economics Paul Dales. "The surge in utilities output, of 3.4% m/m in November, will probably continue into this month as the fall in temperature further below seasonal norms boosts heating demand."
- The strong industrial production numbers were tempered by statements that came from the New York Fed's Empire State Manufacturing survey. From the NY Fed: "When firms were asked about the extent to which each of these issues was expected to become more or less of a problem over the next year, their responses again put employee benefit costs at the top of the list: Eighty percent of respondents anticipated that this would be more of a problem a year from now." The headline index climbed to 0.98 in December from -2.2 in November. Economists were expecting a reading of 5.0.
- Herbalife's new auditor PriceWaterhouseCoopers completed its re-audit of the multi-level marketing company's books, and they made no material changes. The stock spiked by 12% in the wake of the news. Unfortunately, this is bad news for Pershing Square Capital's Bill Ackman who is shorting the stock, claiming the company is an illegal pyramid scheme, and betting the stock is going to $0.
- Deutsche Bank's David Bianco published his 2014 outlook for stocks, and he reiterated his S&P 500 target of 1,850. This is the lowest target among the Wall Street strategists we follow. "We think the S&P likely stays within +/- 5% range from 1800 for the next several months as investors watch EPS and interest rate trends," wrote Bianco. "We expect 2014 to be a year of normal EPS growth, normal PEs, normal total returns, but also normal volatility. Normal volatility includes at least one S&P 500 price dip of 5% -9.9%. Since 1960, the only years when the S&P didn’t suffer a 5%+ dip were 1964, 1993 & 1995. We see low risk of a correction when less than 1850."
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