Here are the main things investors should know before they start trading today:
1. ‘Wait and See’
Stocks haven’t been doing great in 2024 so far. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down nearly 0.5% in the first six trading days of the new year. The S&P 500 is down about 0.25%, and the Nasdaq Composite is down more than 1%.
According to Emily Roland, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management, stocks are kind of waiting to see what happens next. In the second half of this week, there will be two important reports on inflation, and the earnings season is unofficially starting.
Roland mentioned, “It almost feels like we had a big celebration with the Fed changing its approach at the end of the year, and now we might be feeling a bit off because of it.”
2. Hold on a Moment
On Tuesday night, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) gave crypto investors a glimmer of hope but then brought them back to reality. The SEC stated that its account on X (formerly Twitter) was hacked when it posted a message claiming that bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) were approved for trading. SEC Chair Gary Gensler took to his own X account to clarify that the post was not authorized and did not come from the SEC or its staff.
In simpler terms, the SEC still hasn’t decided on the fate of these funds. Bitcoin prices initially went up because of the false post but quickly dropped below $46,000.
People who support cryptocurrencies have been waiting for the SEC to make a decision on bitcoin ETFs for a long time and are hoping for an announcement on the matter this week. They believe that such investment tools will attract new people to digital assets.
3. Shoot for the Moon
The U.S. lunar company, Astrobotic, has canceled its plan for a soft landing on the moon, which would have been the country’s first in over 50 years. The Peregrine moon lander successfully deployed after the inaugural launch of the United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket. However, the spacecraft’s propulsion system had a malfunction shortly after, causing a loss of propellant. The company now states that a moon landing is “impossible.”
Meanwhile, NASA has postponed its lunar goals, pushing back the schedule for its main Artemis moon mission program. Artemis 2, the first crewed launch in the program, is now expected in 2025, and Artemis 3, aiming to land astronauts on the moon, is set for 2026. This is the latest setback for the program, which is already significantly delayed and over budget as NASA and its partners work to finalize the necessary technology.
4. Housing Costs on the Rise
The prices of homes keep increasing. This is partly because mortgage rates have dropped, making more people want to buy homes. However, there’s not enough homes available for everyone who wants to buy, creating the usual problem of supply and demand.
In November, home prices went up by 5.2% compared to the same month the previous year. This is higher than the 4.7% increase seen in October, according to the analytics firm CoreLogic. The new place with a significant price increase is Detroit, which saw prices go up by 8.7% annually. It surpassed Miami, which had been leading for 16 months.
Experts predict that prices might not rise as quickly next year, but it depends on how many houses are up for sale.
5. Legal Battle Resumes
Former President Donald Trump and his legal team argued in court on Tuesday that he should be protected from prosecution for actions taken during his time in office. A group of three federal appellate judges seemed doubtful about Trump’s claim that a president cannot face criminal charges for official actions unless convicted by the Senate through a formal impeachment vote.
The Justice Department’s special counsel has accused Trump in Washington, D.C., on four charges, including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and obstruct an official proceeding. Trump has pleaded not guilty. The court’s decision will have significant implications for Trump’s legal challenges, his potential 2024 presidential campaign, and the broader concept of executive power.
The financial situation is uncertain, with stocks facing difficulties in 2024. The SEC’s false news about bitcoin ETFs adds confusion to the crypto market. Housing prices are going up due to high demand and few available homes, especially in Detroit. Legal battles involving Trump continue, impacting his future plans. The failed moon landing attempt by Astrobotic and NASA’s delays in the Artemis program highlight challenges in space exploration.