Stock market today, March 18, 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.55% to finish at 16,336.19. The S&P 500 added 0.72% to end the day at 1,872.25, while the Nasdaq jumped 1.25% to close at 4,333.31.
The big news today includes a surge in U.S. food prices on the horizon, yet another U.S. bank settling for its bad behavior, Russia annexing Crimea, and a Microsoft swell to near-record levels not seen since 2000.
Here's what you need to know after the bell.
- Food Prices Set to Surge: The Wall Street Journal reports that retail U.S. food prices may increase as high as 3.5% this summer, threatening to exacerbate an already-tepid economic recovery. Prices are set to raise for multiple food staples, including coffee, vegetables, and meat. The uptick would be the largest in three years, as international demand rises and the California drought continues to affect supplies. As we noted on Monday, there are ways to get ahead of this spike and invest in global agriculture in the months ahead. In fact, Money MorningGlobal Resources Specialist Peter Krauth sees one investment that will soar as the agricultural bull market surges...
- Putin Annexes Crimea: This morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty to place the Ukrainian region of Crimea under Moscow's domain over objections from U.S. President Barack Obama and a number of leaders in Europe. Russia will take control of the region, which is of cultural and military importance to the world's largest nation. The West responded with sanctions against specific Russian leaders, setting the stage for a showdown in weeks ahead. Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors explains there are a number of ways to play this geopolitical drama, including this pick, which is up more than 57% over the last month...
- The Market Digs the Cloud: Shares of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) went up as much as 5% on Tuesday, adding nearly $15 billion to the firm's market cap, before closing up 3.94% at $39.55 per share. The jump comes after reports emerged that new CEO Satya Nadella will unveil an iPad app on March 27. The release will be Nadella's first public appearance since his January appointment and will center on Microsoft's "mobile first, cloud first" strategy that will be the hallmark of the CEO's tenure. The last time that Microsoft hit $40 was in July 2000.
- Another Day, Another Bank Settlement: Citigroup Inc.'s (NYSE: C) brokerage and securities arm Citigroup Global Markets Inc. must pay $1.1 million for the alleged short selling of securities ahead of five planned public offerings. But that's not the biggest story of Wall Street greed to hit the wires today. Money Morning Capital Wave Strategist Shah Giliani revealed this $5.9 billion problem for the FDIC that could ultimately cause another financial crisis in the coming years...
- Obamacare Flailing as Deadline Looms: It appears the Federal government's comically tragic attempt to lure young Americans into buying health insurance isn't working. A new study reveals that 34% of Americans without health insurance will remain without insurance; of that 34%, 41% said it isn't affordable, and 17% are opposed Obamacare, according to a survey by Bankrate.com.
Quick Hits for Tomorrow
- The Federal Open Market Committee concludes its two-day meeting on Wednesday. Afterward, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will attempt to convince America that a centrally planned economy will save us from ourselves. Reports from FOX Business indicate the talks have shifted from tapering to when the Fed will raise interest rates.
- Expect more reaction to Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea - including his promise today that Russia will not seize other areas of Ukraine.
- The Vergereports that Bill Ackman's one-man quest could ultimately topple Herbalife LTD (NYSE: HLF) should the FTC move forward. Look for complaints from Carl Icahn.
- The Guardian reports that failed Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has reopened so that users can "look at" but "not touch their balances" - like a zoo for your money.
Bank insurers have been betting your money at the deal table. This is a story about how nothing has changed, and why another bank crisis is coming...