Stock market stabilises post-selloff

Stocks on Wall Street are little changed today, following yesterday’s sharp falls in the leading stock index benchmarks.

With the New Year’s Day holiday breaking things up, it’s been a disjointed, truncated week, with no overriding pattern to speak of. Price movements in the stock market have been very inhibited today, as investors wait to hear what outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has to say in his speech later on in Philadelphia.

By early afternoon in New York, the Dow Jones was up just 0.13% or 21 points, while the S&P 500 index was down 0.05% at 1831.1. Today has little by way of economic releases affecting the stock market, so some mild fluctuations reflecting the ebb and flow of usual trading is a natural corollary of this dearth. I woud say that a period of calm following a significant slide is no bad thing.

Commodity prices are looking a lot more volatile today than stock prices, with a second successive big fall in the price of crude, while gold built upon its good start to the year by rallying more than 1%.

Gold plunged 28% last year, its worst performance since the early eighties and its first annual decline since 2000. The last couple of days has seen some value-buying in the precious metal, helping the price push up to $1239, close to a two-week high.

Crude has fallen 1.4% today to $94.17 a barrel, despite a report from the US Energy Department showing a big drop in oil inventories. Rising supplies of distillate fuel and a large drop in fuel demand eclipsed the falling stockpile of crude though.

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