Oil prices exploded higher, while stocks rallied for a second day and the US dollar declined on Tuesday as markets move one day closer to Friday's big US jobs report.
First, the scoreboard:
Dow: 17,666.4, +305.3, (+1.8%)
S&P 500: 2,050, +29.2, (+1.4%)
Nasdaq: 4,727.7, +51, (+1.1%)
And now, the top stories on Tuesday:
1. Oil prices went crazy on Tuesday. West Texas Intermediate crude prices rose as much 9% on Tuesday, bringing WTI's gains since last Thursday to more than 20%, technically bringing the commodity into a bull market. Brent crude prices also surged on Tuesday and moved into a technical bull market as well.
2. A report in The New York Times on Tuesday said that Saudi Arabia and Russia have held talks regarding oil production, with talks between the two sides hinting that the Saudis could be willing to cut production to drive up prices, but only if Russian president Vladimir Putin withdraws support for Bashar Assad in Syria.
3. The 17-week streak of falling gas prices came to an end during the week that ended February 2, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. Last week, the price of gas ticked up to $2.068 from $2.044 the prior week, though prices are still well below the $3.29 a gallon they were this week last year.
4. The US dollar, which has been on a huge tear, had a tough day on Tuesday, falling about 1% with the euro rising back to near where it traded against the dollar before the European Central Bank's January 22 meeting while the Aussie dollar erased most all of its losses suffered last night after the Reserve Bank of Australia unexpectedly cut interest rates.
4. Auto sales came rolling in on Tuesday, showing that sales in January slowed to an annualized pace of 16.56 million, down from 16.8 million in December. January's sales were headlined by Fiat Chrysler, which rose 14% in January, Ford sales, which rose 15.6%, and GM, which saw sales rise 18.3%. These figures were compared to the prior year, which included the "Polar Vortex" and bout of winter weather that was blamed for the unexpected GDP contraction seen in the first quarter of 2014.
5. Factory orders fell more than expected in December, declining by 3.4% compared to the prior month, missing expectations for a decline of 2.4%. November's orders were also revised lower, to a decline of 1.7% from 0.7%.
6. Another economic data point on Tuesday disappointed, as the Institute for Supply Management's read on business activity in New York City showed activity in the city contracted in January. ISM New York's headline read on business activity fell to 44.5, down from 70.8 in December and falling to the lowest level in six years as activity contracted for the first time in 19 months.
7. UPS shares finished the day virtually unchanged after the shipping giant reported earnings that were in-line with expectations, though the company two weeks ago hacked its profit estimate due to poor performance in its US segment and difficulties managing package volume around the holidays.
8. A report in The Wall Street Journal said that office-supply chains Office Depot and Staples are in advanced talks to merge, and while the report said the price of the deal could not be learned, shares of Staples gained about 11% on Tuesday while Office Depot shares were up more than 20%.