S&P 500 Flat as Oil Prices Diverge

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up just 0.2% as of 1:30 p.m. EDT, and the largest exchange-traded fund tracking the S&P 500, the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEMKT: SPY  ) , is up 0.2% as well.

There were three U.S. economic releases today.





Industrial production




Capacity utilization




Pending home sales




The one to pay attention to is pending home sales. Analysts had expected a slight rise, but the pending-home-sales index dropped to its lowest level since the end of 2012.

US Pending Home Sales Index Chart

US Pending Home Sales Index data by YCharts.

This is the first time in two years that the index has shown a year-over-year drop, with pending home sales down 1.2% from the year-ago level. This slowdown in housing-market activity is a reflection of the steep rise in mortgage rates and the jump in housing prices.

US 30 Year Mortgage Rate Chart

US 30 Year Mortgage Rate data by YCharts.

Oil Prices
The worse-than-expected housing data held back oil prices today until the Libyan National Oil Corp said oil production fell to 250,000 barrels a day. WTI crude rose 0.4% to $98.24, while Brent crude jumped 1.64% to $108.68. Brent crude jumped more because Libya is a supplier to the European markets, where Brent is priced.

Libya production has been struggling to return production to the 2 million barrels per day the country used to achieve while it was still controlled by Muammar Gaddafi. The national oil company and its partners had production back to roughly 1.25 million barrels per day earlier in the month until this past weekend, when protests erupted at a key oil port run by Italy's Eni.

The loss of production is bad news for European consumers who have been dealing with much higher prices than in the U.S., where a glut of oil inventory and a lack of export options has been weighing on prices; the WTI-Brent price spread has widened to nearly $10 a barrel.

WTI Crude Oil Spot Price Chart

WTI Crude Oil Spot Price data by YCharts.

The price of oil remains high as the commodity is in high demand and supply can be cut any time by flaring tensions in the Middle East. To help investors get rich off of high oil prices, our top analysts prepared a free report that reveals three stocks that are bound to soar as oil prices climb higher. To discover the identities of these stocks instantly, access your free report by clicking here now.

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