The stock market continued its gradual rise in an unsurprisingly quiet holiday session on Thursday. Investors weighed the continued decline of the U.S. dollar, which fell around 0.4%, against oil prices at a more than two-year high. Similar to yesterday's small gains, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) climbed about a quarter percent.
Today's stock market
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On one hand, oil stocks led the market's gains today, with the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF (NYSEMKT:XOP) climbing 0.8%. On the other, consumer goods stocks dragged down the broader market; the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT:XLP) fell 0.2%.
As for individual stocks, Royal Gold (NASDAQ:RGLD) plunged following news of a temporary shutdown at a mine, while Citigroup (NYSE:C) incurred some surprising fines after issuing errant stock recommendations to investors.
Royal Gold's parched mine
Shares of Royal Gold fell as much as 10% early today, then settled to close down around 5.4% after the precious metals company reported the temporary suspension of mill processing operations at the Mount Milligan mine in British Columbia, Canada.
Mine operator Centerra Gold announced the suspension "due to a lack of sufficient water resources" driven by extremely cold temperatures and subsequent ice formation. Royal Gold has a streaming interest of 35% of the mine's payable gold and 18.75% of payable copper.
To be fair, Centerra did attempt to mitigate the water shortfall by drilling additional wells to draw from nearby aquifers on the property. But that effort was only partially successful. As a longer-term solution, Centerra is also working on amending Mount Milligan's environmental assessment to allow pumping water from a nearby lake. For now, though, there will likely only be enough fresh water to partially restart operations by the end of January 2018, then return to full capacity after the spring melt.
That's not to say this downtime is a complete loss; Centerra's mill maintenance crews will use it to carry out preventative maintenance activities with a focus on completing work that had been slated for later in the year. But given the timing of expected gold and copper shipments and deliveries, Royal Gold investors will see the negative impact of this shutdown reflected in its mid-2018 results.
Citigroup's bad advice
Meanwhile, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) today announced that it has fined Citigroup Global Markets $5.5 million and ordered it to pay at least $6 million to retail customers for displaying the wrong research ratings on over 1,800 stocks -- or more than 38% of the stocks covered by the banking giant -- between February 2011 and December 2015.
According to FINRA, the issue stemmed from errors in the electronic feed of ratings data that Citigroup provided to its clearing firm. In many cases this caused the wrong rating (such as buy instead of sell) to be displayed. In other cases, it either displayed ratings for securities that Citigroup did not cover, or didn't display ratings for stocks it was covering.
The issue didn't affect the ratings in Citigroup's actual research reports, which were available to brokers. But FINRA says as a result of the incorrect ratings, Citigroup Global Markets' brokers "solicited thousands of transactions inconsistent with the firm's actual ratings and negligently made inaccurate statements to customers about those ratings."
As part of the settlement, Citigroup Global Markets neither admitted to nor denied the charges. But the fine and ordered payments -- however small relative to Citigroup's total market capitalization -- speak for themselves, and certainly won't do the firm any favors with regard to building customer rapport.