As Wall Street wraps up its flattest year since 2011, investors will have to deal with many of the same issues next year as they attempt to gauge market direction. While many market participants have a host of worries heading into 2016 that could hurt stocks and keep volatility high, they remain optimistic for gains in 2016 and a strong start to the year could boost that case. Stocks could get a boost next week from the so-called "January effect," when stocks that were sold off in December for year-end tax harvesting rally back in the next month as investors scoop them back up at lower prices.
By David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Honda Motor Co confirmed on Thursday that a Takata airbag inflator ruptured in a July crash of a Honda Accord and likely led to the death of the young driver, the ninth death in the world linked to the faulty inflators. After an inspection of vehicle components in cooperation with regulators, Honda said it "confirmed that the Takata driver’s front airbag inflator ruptured" and "injuries related to this airbag inflator rupture likely resulted in the tragic death of the underage driver." The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said last week the death took place in July in a recalled used 2001 Honda Accord coupe near Pittsburgh. The unidentified teen-aged driver was hospitalized after a Takata airbag ruptured and died several days later.
(Reuters) – The union representing Delta Air Lines Inc's pilots is seeking a wage hike of about 40 percent compounded over three years as the carrier's profits surge, Bloomberg reported, citing a memo from the Air Line Pilots Association. The union is taking a more aggressive stance in negotiations with the Atlanta-based airline after two-thirds of the pilots previously rejected a deal for a 22 percent wage hike over three years, Bloomberg said. The carrier's pilots have taken several pay cuts since the early 2000s resulting from terrorist attacks and losses from bankruptcy protection, Bloomberg said.
The White House has delayed imposing new financial sanctions on Iran over its ballistic-missile program, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. On Wednesday, the Journal, citing U.S. officials, said the Obama administration was preparing to sanction nearly a dozen companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates for their role in developing Iran's ballistic-missile program. The U.S. sanctions were expected to be formally announced this week, the newspaper said.
Apparel retailers saw a boost of no more than $200 million in sales from cold weather just before the new year, and with product markdowns above 50 percent, it will be very difficult to make up margins in the coming months, industry researchers said. Shoppers came out to spend on winter apparel in the last two weeks of December as cold weather finally rolled in after an unseasonably warm run-up to the holiday. Holiday sales are a major influence on retailers' financial health, and department stores like JCPenney and Macy's are some of the most affected from warm weather slowing apparel sales, according to consultants.
By Svea Herbst-Bayliss BOSTON (Reuters) – Billionaire investor William Ackman said on Thursday he sold about 5 million shares in drug company Valeant International in order to generate a tax loss as investors in his Pershing Square Capital Management face the biggest loss in the company's history. Ackman's hedge fund now owns 29.1 million shares in Valeant, or 8.5 percent of the company, down from 34.1 million shares, or 9.9 percent, according to a regulatory filing made after the market closed on Thursday, the last trading day of 2015. Pershing Square sold shares in its two on-shore portfolios in order to generate a tax loss for investors while the two off-shore portfolios did not sell any shares, the filing said.
Much of the blame for this year's underwhelming stock market performance can be laid at the feet of crude oil prices, which lost a third of their value during an unprecedented global glut. "If you went to sleep on Dec. 31, 2014, and woke up today, you'd say what a dull year it's been, and yet in between we've had these wild swings," said Donald Selkin, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York. The Nasdaq Composite gained 5.73 percent after surpassing levels not seen since the dot-com bubble in 2000.
NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices rose on Thursday but fell as much as 35 percent for the year after a race to pump by Middle East crude producers and U.S. shale oil drillers created an unprecedented global glut that may take through 2016 to clear. Global oil benchmark Brent and U.S. crude's West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures rose between 1 and 2 percent on the day on short-covering and buying support in a thinly traded market ahead of the New Year holiday. The U.S. shale industry, meanwhile, surprised the world again with its ability to survive rock-bottom crude prices, churning out more supply than expected, even as the sell-off in oil slashed by two-thirds the number of drilling rigs in the country from a year ago.
By James Oliphant WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The troubled campaign of Democratic U.S. presidential contender Martin O'Malley was dealt another blow on Thursday when the struggling candidate failed to qualify for the primary ballot in the political bellwether state of Ohio. Ohio holds its primary on March 15. O'Malley's campaign submitted 1,175 signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, but only 772 were deemed valid by the state's boards of elections ahead of the Jan. 5 deadline.