Markets

Stocks go gently into the Christmas break

Bitcoin hit an all-time high on Sunday, rising above US$19,500; it is now trading at US$12,553
Father Christmas
The market report, read to you by Nicholas Saint ...
  • Dow Jones down 28 at 24,728

  • S&P down 1 at 2,683

  • Bitcoin recovers to US$12,553, down 19%

  • Blockchain bandwagon jumpers get the cold shoulders

The final trading session before the Christmas break was predictably subdued, with stocks ending on a dull note.

The Dow Jones 30-share average shed 28 points at 24,754 and the S&P 500 dipped just over a point to 2,683.

Across the border, the S&P TSX Composite gave up 17 points to close at 16,165.

On a day when oh-so-fashionable bitcoin took an absolute bath, sliding 19% to US$12,553, gold came back into favor, rising 0.7% to US$1,279.10.

Stocks deemed to be harnessed to the bitcoin phenomenon generally took a pasting, including the likes of computer chip-makers Advanced Micro Devices Inc (NASDAQ:AMD) and Nvidia Corp (NASDAQ:NVDA), and opportunists Riot Blockchain (NASDAQ:RIOT) and Long Island Iced Tea Corp (NASDAQ:LTEA), both of which changed direction to jump on the blockchain bandwagon, got hammered, with the former tumbling 11% and the latter 13%.

Mid-session: Stocks slide but bitcoin rallies

The major benchmarks slipped lower in the morning session but Bitcoin was on the recovery trail.

The S&P 500 was down 3.6 at 2,681 while the Dow Jones was down 54 at 24,728.

Bitcoin, which at one point was down more than 25% on the day, had recovered to US$13,328, down 14.7%.

Party City Holdco Inc (NYSE:PRTY) advanced 13% as it bought out Advent-Party City's stake in the company for US$242mln.

“We believe this transaction provides an opportunity to increase shareholder value and is immediately accretive to earnings per share,2 said Jim Harrison, the chief executive officer of Party City.

“Additionally, this transaction removes a share over hang associated with Advent’s long term shareholder interest in the business,” he added.

Open: Mixed-to-flat opening

US stocks opened mixed-to-flat.

The Dow Jones 30-share was down 12 at 24,769 while the S&P was unchanged at 2,684.

Bitcoin has recovered just a shade from its dramatic plunge, with the price down 22.3% at US$12,137.

Long Island Iced Tea (NASDAQ:LTEA), which yesterday signaled a change in direction with a change in name to Long Blockchain Corp, saw its shares tumble 23% today in response to the collapse in the Bitcoin price.

Another company announcing a change of shape – although mercifully not into a blockchain technology – was recruitment outfit Staffing 360 Solutions inc (NASDAQ:STAF).

The stock surged 17.5% as it announced it would re-organize into three distinct business segments: Commercial Staffing (US), Professional Staffing (UK) and Professional Staffing (US).

Matt Briand, its president and chief executive officer, will leave the company at the end of January to pursue other business and personal interests.

Preview

In what should be a quiet final session before the Christmas break, US stocks were expected to open a little softer.

Spread betting quotes indicated the Dow Jones would open at around 24,764, after rising 56 points yesterday to 24,782.

The broader-based S&P 500 was expected to open its account at around 2,685.6, after rising five points to 2,685 yesterday.

If the equity markets were expected to be sedate, the same could not be said of the world of crypto-currencies, where the value of Bitcoin has crashed more than a quarter to US$11,567.

Bitcoin hit an all-time high on Sunday, rising above US$19,500.

There was little to match that sort of volatility in pre-market trading in the equity markets, apart from Ignyta Inc (NASDAQ:RXDX), which shot up 73% to US$26.84 after agreeing to be bought out by Swiss drugs giant Roche.

Sector peer Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) slid 5.3% to US$102.20 after reporting disappointing test results on a combination of two of its cancer drugs.

The stock price of Google-owner Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) was unmoved on news that Eric Schmidt is to step down as executive chairman of the advertising company.

READ Eric Schmidt steps down as executive chairman of Google owner Alphabet


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