Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded modestly higher Wednesday, the first trading day of 2019. The Dow ended 2018 with a loss of 5.6%.
  • The Nasdaq closed higher for the fifth straight day. It traded in positive territory after falling earlier in Wednesday's session.
  • Tesla Inc. (TSLA)  sank 6.8% after the electric vehicle company said it delivered 90,700 cars in the fourth quarter, up 8% from the previous quarter but below analysts' estimates of 92,000.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks tiptoed into positive territory on Wednesday, Jan. 2, the first trading day of 2019, after falling sharply earlier in the session following weaker-than-expected manufacturing data from China that suggested the ongoing trade dispute between Washington and Beijing would continue to take its toll on global economic growth.

The stock market's reversal began in conjunction with a spike in oil prices Wednesday. Global bench mark Brent crude prices jumped 2.3% to $55.03, while U.S. benchmark West Texas crude rose 2.6% to $46.60 per barrel.

A key private reading of manufacturing activity in China, the Caixin-Markit PMI, slipped below 50, the level that separates growth from contraction for the first time in 19 months, according to data published Wednesday.

The gloomy snapshot pulled stocks in China deeply into the red on Wednesday, with the Shanghai Composite falling 1.15%, extending the 25%-plus decline booked in 2018. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong plunged 2.8%. Japan's Nikkei 225 was closed for a public holiday. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 19 points, or 0.08%, to 23,291 - at its session low the blue-chip index had declined 398 points. The S&P 500 gained 0.13%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.46%. 

Stocks in the U.S. rose on New Year's Eve but finished squarely to the downside in 2018. The Dow fell 5.6% for the year, the S&P 500 tumbled 6.2% and the Nasdaq slid 3.9%. The declines were the biggest for the three major benchmark indexes since 2008.

Energy stocks were mostly higher Wednesday, led by Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) which gained 2.17%. ConocoPhillips (COP) rose 1.6% and BP (BP) rose 1.8% on the day. 

Donald Trump invited Democrats to a bipartisan meeting at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the government shutdown, which has entered its 12th day. It wasn't immediately clear, though, that Democratic congressional leaders would attend, according to The Wall Street Journal. Their leverage will grow Thursday, when the party officially takes control of the House and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California is expected to become speaker.

On Tuesday, Trump sent a tweet asking Pelosi to "make a deal" over his desired $5 billion in funding for a wall on the border of Mexico and the U.S.

Trump tweeted: "Border Security and the Wall "thing" and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let's make a deal?"

Tesla Inc. (TSLA) fell 6.8% after the electric vehicle company said it delivered 90,700 cars in the fourth quarter, up 8% from the previous quarter but below analysts' estimates of 92,000.

The company also said it would be slashing prices on select models by $2,000 to "partially absorb" a reduction in federal tax credits for electric car drivers that went into effect on Jan. 1.

Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) said Wednesday that Dennis Durkin will become the company's chief financial officer, following a regulatory filing from the company that said it intended to terminate Chief Financial Officer Spencer Neumann "for cause unrelated to the company's financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures."

The video game company said Neumann was placed on a paid leave of absence; he joined Activision 18 months ago. Durkin was serving as the company's chief corporate officer.

Reuters reported that Neumann would be joining Netflix Inc. (NFLX) as its next chief financial officer and the streaming giant would be making an announcement in the next few days. Netflix confirmed Wednesday that it named Neumann as its next finance chief.

Meanwhile, Netflix's price target was cut to $355 from $410 by analysts at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, who said they were trimming estimates for new domestic and international subscriber additions for the three months ended in December. SunTrust said it expects global additions in the region of 8.65 million, compared to Netflix's estimate of around 9.4 million, and noted that new market rivals, such as Walt Disney Co. (DIS) , Apple Inc. (AAPL) and AT&T Inc.  (T) could challenge the group's business model later this year.

SunTrust maintained its "buy" rating on Netflix.

Activision rose 1%, and Netflix was flat. 

Disney fell  on Wednesday in spite of a multi-year agreement the media company reached with Verizon Inc. (VZ) that keeps the company's channel lineup on Verizon Fios. There was a threat that Disney's channels would be blacked out on one of the nation's largest carriers before the deal was reached over the weekend. 

Separately, the final numbers are in for the company's movie studio in 2018.

Disney grossed $7.3 billion at the worldwide box office in 2018, according to CNN. It is the studios' second best year ever, behind the $7.6 billion it grossed in 2016. Disney set a domestic box office record of $3.09 billion in 2018 thanks to blockbusters like Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther. 

Disney shares fell 0.6% Wednesday. Verizon shares fell 0.4%. 

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