Closing Bell: LIVE MARKETS BLOG

 | Dec 27, 2017 | 4:09 PM EST
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U.S. markets were predictably sleepy on the second day of trading following the long holiday weekend.

A late push helped the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rise 0.08%, or 2 points, and 0.04%, or 3.1 points, higher respectively and close the day in the green. The Dow spent most of the day in positive territory and closed trading up 0.11%, or 27.68 points higher.


Royal Caribbean Passengers Should Brace for Higher Gratuity Fees in 2018

Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) shares were up 0.6% after the company announced higher mandatory gratuity fees for cruises beginning January 2. Travelers will now have to pay a daily gratuity of $14.50 per passenger, up about 7%. Passengers staying in suites will see their gratuity bill rise to $17.50 per passenger per day. 

Rival Carnival Corp. (CCL) currently charges about $12.95 per person per day. 

A family of four staying for a week on a  cruise will now pay more than $400 in automatic gratuities during their trip. 


Copper Stocks Climb as Commodity Hits 4 Year High

Copper stocks were climbing Wednesday after the red metal hit its highest level in nearly four years. Copper prices could close the year up 39% and could see its best year since 2010. 

Copper prices hit $7,259 per tonne in trading Wednesday, its highest level since January 2014. 

Western Copper and Gold Corp (WRN) shares were up 3% Wednesday, Southern Copper Corp. (SCCO) shares gained 0.62% and BHP Billiton (BHP) shares rose 0.6% in trading. 


Home Sales Come Back Down to Earth in November

U.S. home sales rose 0.2% month-to-month in November, according to the National Association of Realtors. While home sales were basically flat on a month-to-month basis, they were up 0.8% year-to-year. 

Home prices continued to rise in the month, while the supply of homes for sale fell to just 3.4 months' worth in November, the lowest level since NAR began tracking supply in 1999. The low supply has helped keep prices high. 

"However, new buyers coming into the market are finding out quickly that their options are limited and competition is robust. Realtors say many would-be buyers from earlier this year, stifled by tight supply and higher prices, are still trying to buy a home," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said, according to CNBC


Bloomberg Estimates World's Richest Added 23% to Their Wealth in 2017

Bloomberg's Billionaires index indicated that the world's top 67 billionaires added more than $1 trillion to their wealth in 2017, more than four times last year's gains. 

The world's richest person, Amazon.com  (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos saw his wealth balloon by $34.2 billion as he took over the top spot from former Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Bill Gates. Bezos' net worth sits at about $99.6 billion, according to Bloomberg

As of the end of trading Tuesday, the world's 500 billionaires controlled $5.3 trillion, up from the $4.4 trillion they controlled last year. 


GOP Tax Bill Will Cost Barclays, Shell Billions

Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.B) says that it will take a fourth-quarter charge between $2 billion and $2.5 billion in the fourth quarter thanks to the GOP tax overhaul that was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump this month. 

Barclays (BCS) echoed that sentiment, saying that it would take a noncash charge of $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter due to the changes in U.S. tax law. The charge, along with other restructuring costs, is expected to push the U.K. bank into the red for the year. 

"It is possible that any impact of [the base erosion measures] could significantly reduce the benefit of the reduction in the statutory U.S. federal rate," Barclays said, according to the Wall Street Journal


U.S. Consumer Confidence Falls From 17-Year High 

U.S. consumer confidence fell from a 17-year high in December, according to data compiled by New York-based Conference Board.

In spite of the decline, December consumer confidence is still the strongest its been since 2000. 

"Despite the decline in confidence, consumers' expectations remain at historically strong levels, suggesting economic growth will continue well into 2018," Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board, said in a statement.


Keybanc Expects Tesla's Model 3 Delivery Problems to Continue

Keybanc analyst Brad Erickson is not convinced that Tesla (TSLA) has put its Model 3 delivery issues behind it and reiterated his "sector weight" rating on Tesla shares. As a result, Erickson lowered his fourth-quarter Model 3 delivery expectations to 5,000 from 15,000 cars.

"We estimate Tesla will announce delivery of [about 5,000] Model 3s in 4Q sometime early next week, below the sell-side estimate but likely acceptable for the buyside," Erickson said. "While it is likely to be a few quarters before the Company's true Model 3 gross margin judgment day arrives ... we think the Model 3 margin ramp will disappoint and investors will have to acknowledge no [Model] S/X growth at some point, which is not reflected in the shares."


GE to Raise Stake in Arcam to 95%

General Electric (GE) announced that it will raise its stake in Swedish 3D printer maker Arcam AB (AMAVF) to 95% from 77% by buying shares from hedge funds Elliott and Polygon for $41.44 per share. 

GE said it plans to acquire all the remaining shares of the company and requests that it delist its shares from the Nasdaq Stockholm exchange. 


Tesla to Move to Pickup Trucks Following Model Y Debut

Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk asked his Twitter (TWTR) followers how he could improve the company Tuesday, and after being told he should build a truck, Musk revealed that one was in the works. 

I promise that we will make a pickup truck right after Model Y. Have had the core design/engineering elements in my mind for almost 5 years. Am dying to build it.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 26, 2017

Musk said that the company will work on the truck right after it debuts its much-anticipated Model Y crossover SUV. 

Musk said that the truck would be similar in size to Ford's (F) F150 truck, the market's most popular truck. He also said that the truck may also be slightly bigger than the F150 to account for what he believes will be a still unnamed game-changing feature. 


Amazon to Move Into Advertising in 2018

Amazon.com  (AMZN) is planning to begin experimenting with ad products both on and off of its platform in 2018, according to CNBC sources, as the company looks to disrupt yet another industry that is currently dominated by Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) .

Most of the conversations the company is having are focusing on new ad opportunities on Amazon's e0commerce search and video products, according to CNBC sources. 

Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky indicated during their Q2 earnings call in July that the company was hiring more ad sales staff. 


Premarket

U.S. stock futures were indicating a mixed open for markets Wednesday as the major averages look to rebound from a dismal post-Christmas trading session. 

S&P 500 futures contracts were trading in the green, up 0.05%, or 1.25 points ahead of the opening bell. Nasdaq futures were trailing 0.07%, or 4.5 points, while Dow Jones futures declined 0.03% or 7 points. 

Bitcoin trading has stabilized slightly with the digital currency now trading up 0.73% to $15,859.63 as of 8 am EST. The cryptocurrency took a sharp overnight dip from a high of about $16,500. 

Asian markets closed the day in positive territory for the most part, however, the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.92% on the day. In Europe, the FTSE100 was the only major index to trade in the green with about three hours left in trading. 

Columnist Conversations

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