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Saudi Oil Cuts Give Energy a 4.5% Boost

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Call it a “Turnaround Tuesday” if you’re so inclined. We didn’t make back the losses from Monday’s session, but the lower pre-market levels this morning were easily eradicated. The Nasdaq put up its best single-day performance in three weeks, finishing +0.95%, followed by the S&P 500 +0.71% and the Dow +0.55%. The small-cap Russell 2000 reverted back to late 2020 by taking the cake among major indexes, +1.7% today.

The OPEC+ meeting from today offered a surprise to the upside for Big Oil and Energy in general, with the Saudi leadership declaring a new cut in production of 1 million barrels per day. There was some attention being paid to this meeting of big Mideast oil providers plus Russia, but the market boost felt across the sector made the impression this was an unexpected positiver development. Energy rose 4.5% on the day, led by a 10% gain in Occidental Petroleum (OXY - Free Report) .

Fresh auto sales numbers also impressed market participants today, at least for select companies. Volkswagen sales rose 11.0% while General Motors (GM - Free Report) doubled analyst expectations to +4.8%. GM’s stock gained nearly 3% on the day, as investors heard the company’s average price for a single vehicle unit rose to an all-time high near $42K. Although still off near-term highs from late November, GM is up 62% over the past six months.

Tomorrow begins the employment numbers segment of the week, which has the potential to affect market activity. While tomorrow’s ADP (ADP - Free Report) private-sector payroll report is expected to bring around 60K new jobs for the month, that’s well off the pace of 307K posted in November. Friday’s non-farm payrolls are estimated to come in even lower: 50K for the month of December, from 245K a month ago. Combined with a potential climb in weekly jobless claims on Thursday morning, we may see the narrative of labor market struggles worsening in the face of the height of the Covid-19 pandemic so far.

Then again, surprise jobs numbers to the upside might have the opposite effect. These are, after all, very low estimates for monthly jobs gains, especially from the highs we saw last summer which managed to bring back a good chunk of those pandemic-related jobs lost in the spring. If they can somehow prove more robust than analysts are currently allowing overall, we might see a bright spot for bullish sentiment to shine into near-term market activity.

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