Today's stock market
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Energy stocks were up sharply on a rise in the price of crude oil, with the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT:XLE) gaining 1.9%. Gold prices fell today, and the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (NYSEMKT:GLD) dropped 1.6%.
As for individual stocks, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) released U.S. auto sales figures and Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk tweeted an update on the production schedule for its latest model.
Ford gets traction in a weak market
Ford announced June U.S. auto sales today, and the numbers were better than observers had expected. The company sold 227,979 vehicles, 5.1% less than in June of last year, compared with expectations of a decline of 9.7%. Retail sales were flat, but fleet sales were down 13.9%, a drop the company said was expected due to the timing of fleet deliveries last year.
Truck and SUV sales were particularly strong, with sales of F-series trucks up 9.8% from the year before and Explorer sales having their best performance in years, up 22.7%. Average transaction pricing grew $1,800, compared with a gain of $520 by the industry overall. Ford shares rallied 3.3% on the news.
"Customers drove a record 406,464 Ford brand SUV sales in the first half of this year, with Explorer sales increasing 23 percent in June," said Ford Vice President Mark LaNeve in the press release. "F-Series continues expanding its sales and share this year, with customers opting for high-series pickups and investing in class-exclusive features that only Ford trucks offer."
Against a backdrop of a down year for the auto industry, investors were happy that Ford's customers are paying up for pricier trucks and SUVs with upper-level trim options. On the conference call, management also gave an upbeat forecast, saying that despite timing issues in June and July, fleet sales for the full year will end up equal to those of 2016.
Tesla's Model 3 about to hit the road
Musk got fans of Tesla buzzing with some tweets late Sunday night that confirmed that the company's first mass-market car, the Model 3 sedan, is starting production. Musk said that regulatory requirements were passed "two weeks ahead of schedule," the first production unit will roll off the line on Friday, and the first 30 customer units will be delivered on July 28. Musk said that August production should be 100 cars, September should see "above" 1,500 made, and December production should reach 20,000.
The news didn't deviate much from the projection the company gave in the Q1 update in early May. At that time, the company said it expected to start production in July and to reach 5,000 vehicles per week at some point in 2017. But given the lengthy delays that Tesla had in with its earlier models, the production ramp of the Model 3 is being closely watched, and the fact that the schedule is holding firm is good news. Shares of Tesla rose 2.7% early in the day, but drifted lower to close the day down 2.5%. The stock is up 65% for the year.