Stocks ebb, commodities surge

Stocks on Wall Street slipped back today, following on from yesterday’s record close for the S&P 500, while oil, gold and silver have advanced to multi-week highs.

After a new high there is no great surprise when there is a period consolidation, when buyers take a breather or when caution holds sway, and such is the case on Wall Street today. The S&P 500 closed higher than it has ever done before and today its level has eased off a touch. There’s caution in the air with the next FOMC meeting just a week away and with lawmakers in Washington once again attempting to hammer out a budget deal.

By early afternoon in New York, the Dow Jones had slipped back 0.17% or 27 points to 15,997, while the S&P 500 fell 0.26% to 1803.6. The key psychological levels of 16,000 for the Dow and 1800 for the S&P are both up for grabs in the battle between bulls and bears, and the contest is looking like a stalemate at the moment, the stock market moving broadly sideways so far this week.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics released its job openings survey today, revealing that job openings climbed to 3.295 million in October, a small improvement from the prior month, while ‘separations’ (people leaving employment) decreased slightly to 4.249 million. The market reaction was low key, despite the report supposedly being a source that is used by Janet Yellen, the nominee for the next Fed chairperson.

The dollar has dropped against all major currencies today, with the dollar index declining for the fourth session in a row, and the weakness in the dollar is boosting many dollar-denominated commodities. US light crude oil futures hit a six-week high earlier in the trading session, while gold is up 1.8% at $1262.5 per troy ounce and silver has risen 2.5%.

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