Welcome to the final beta edition of Axios Markets — Dion Rabouin and Courtenay Brown take the reins next week, in your inbox daily starting Jan. 7. Your friends can sign up here.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The issues that whipsawed stocks in 2018 — namely trade and the Fed — aren't going anywhere this year, leaving few catalysts to push stocks to new highs, Courtenay writes.
Wall Street outlooks reviewed by Axios say that though the U.S.-China trade war is the crucial factor for stocks, almost all feel good about the likelihood of a deal, despite the unpredictable nature of the trade conflict.
The Fed may back off on hiking interest rates as quickly as previously planned, but the central bank will continue on the tightening path and won't revert to easing — despite what traders are betting.
What to watch: We'll get some clue about how the biggest issues for the market may play out early in the year: Trade talks kick off within the next few days, and the Fed holds a two-day meeting and faces reporters in late January.
#Breaking: The Dow opened the year by falling as many as 398 points (but rallied to be down around 50 by mid-day).
It's the first trading day of the year! In just the first hour of trading, the S&P 500 fell 0.82%. That also means that after an hour the S&P 500 was down 0.82% YTD. There are about 1,640 trading hours in the day, which means that on an annualized basis, the S&P is down, um... 99.99986%. As we head into an arbitrary new year, then, it's worth being aware of some of the other arbitrary conventions that govern a lot of talk about markets, Axios' Felix Salmon writes.
Be smart: Use your own timeframe and judge against benchmarks which are meaningful to your own circumstances. The media can't do that for you.
Sign up for Axios Edge, Felix's weekly look-ahead at the stories that will drive the business world, here.
For most of 2018, Axios Future Editor Steve LeVine writes that it looked like he had no shot to win his annual bet on the price of oil. Based on a forecast he had seen that supplies would flood the market in the last quarter, his wager was $50.01 a barrel in the annual contest among some two dozen energy analysts, academics and reporters to project Brent's year-end price.
Sign up for Steve's weekly Axios Future newsletter on innovations in automation, mobility, society, cities, genetics, blockchain and more, here.
December jobs data will be released 8:30am Friday.
Why it matters: Any sign of a slowdown will be ammunition for those calling on the Fed to hold off on raising rates further this year.
Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman made the New York Post's Page Six with the party he threw to celebrate a $350 million donation to MIT for the study of artificial intelligence.
Stephen and wife Christine lit up their 740 Park Ave. pad in late December with laser-flashing, futuristic, dancing power robots firing dry ice from dual machine guns, body-painted bots, and female dancers writhing in tight silver bodysuits with disco balls on their heads.
Despite a strict social-media ban, guests including Paris and Nicky Hilton were seen in a few posts dancing wildly with the robots raining down a fog of dry ice, while priceless paintings by Dali and Modigliani from the Schwarzmans’ stunning art collection could be viewed in the background, amid other flashing neon decor. Guests included a host of Wall Street bigwigs, and many of the Schwarzmans’ society friends, one insider said, adding that Steve “is so excited about AI. It is the future, and he wanted to share that with his guests in a fun way.”— New York Post
Go deeper: MIT is investing $1 billion into AI research
Dion and Courtenay will see you bright and early on Monday!