Wall Street and Markets


A first for 2016: Dow Jones inches into the green

With a recession scare still in the air, the rising price of oil pulls up most other financial signs

Innovation series by Ronny Kerr
March 18, 2016
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/441b

After a month of gains, the financial markets are inching into the green.

In the past week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.3 percent (to 17,602), meaning it’s up 1.0 percent for the year. It also marks the first time this year that the index has been in the green all year.

Most of the market has been frightened by plunging oil prices, which fell more than 70 percent between June 2014 and March 2016. Among a myriad of other factors, the glut has been fueled by the opening up of Iran after sanctions were lifted earlier this year.

After plunging to as low as $26.21 per barrel in early February, the price appears to be inching as high as $41.00 in recent days, which would bring the price back to December 2015 levels. The broader market appears to be reacting accordingly, resulting in the Dow Jones’ move into the green.

Among tech stocks we’ve been tracking, Apple is the most recent to also have gone into the green. In the past week, its stock rose 3.5 percent to $105.90, meaning it’s up 0.6 percent for the year. Though it’s unclear what’s driving the most recent growth, Apple does have an event planned for this Monday, March 21, which rumors say will bring us new Apple Watch bands. The tech giant’s ongoing dispute with the FBI over developing a backdoor to the iPhone doesn’t appear to be affecting shares in any way.

Facebook, which actually dipped into the green in late January, is up 1.7 percent this week to $111.20 and up 6.3 percent for the year. After a rough time in the week prior, Twitter stayed flat at $16.82, meaning it’s still down a whopping 27.3 percent for the year.

Alphabet (Google) is up 1.4 percent to $755.27, and for the year it’s down 2.9 percent.

The slow, conservative growth by most of these tech stocks is paralleled by the slow, conservative growth seen on the index where they're listed, the Nasdaq, which rose 1.0 percent (to 4,798) in the past week. For the year, it’s still down 4.2 percent.

As for the chance of a looming recession? We’re still seeing mixed signals.

Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist for Key Private Bank, acknowledges the U.S. economy is struggling but doesn't think we're headed for a recession. Similarly, others conclude that we should be cautiously optimistic of slow, but steady growth—this based on figures around employment, industrial production, retail sales, and personal income levels (parameters outlined by the National Bureau of Economic Research for defining a recession).

And then still others are more blunt, saying the recession is here.

We’ll keep an eye on the markets, as well as the climate in the technology sector specifically, so keep checking back for updates.

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