Today's Stock Market: The Five Biggest Stories to Watch

Today's stock market news, Feb. 24, 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 30 points on Friday to close at 16,103. The Nasdaq fell 0.1% to 4,263, while the S&P remained flat, falling 3 points to close at 1,836.

The world will continue to focus this week on continued unrest in Venezuela and Ukraine.

Five Biggest Stories in Today's Stock Market, Feb. 24, 2014

  • A Market Solution to Net Neutrality: Over the weekend, Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) reached a deal with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA) to pay an undisclosed premium to improve video streaming quality and prioritize content to its customers. It is the first deal between an Internet service provider and online streaming service company centered on improving content streaming and follows reports that Netflix quality had declined in recent months across Comcast's network. The deal raises significant concerns about the growth of digital infrastructure in the nation, as Netflix users already use 33% of the bandwidth in the country.
  • Digital Payment Systems Evolve: At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA) unveiled its new MasterPass in-app payment system. Mastercard's new app system, set for delivery in the second quarter of 2014, will eliminate the need to store credit card data across multiple apps within a user's phone. Customers can instead make a purchase through one-click option while using a different app and link directly to one centralized Mastercard account.
  • Time to Rethink This Deal: At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) presented three new "Nokia X" branded phones running on the Android system, a strong shift from its traditional reliance on Microsoft Corp.'s (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows Phone 8 operating platform. This announcement wouldn't raise eyebrows if the company were rebranding; however, Microsoft is in the final steps of completing a $7.2 billion deal to acquire Nokia's mobile devices business. It's unclear what Microsoft plans to do with these devices once the Nokia deal closes.
  • Bad News on Discount Deals: According to the Lundberg Survey, the average cost per gallon of gasoline is up more than 12 cents in the last two weeks. Recent political crises in the Ukraine, South Sudan, and Venezuela have affected the oil and shipping markets. Despite the increase, the average retail price is still 38 cents lower than this time last year.
  • A Snow Makeup Date: On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will appear before the Senate to provide a semi-annual update on monetary policy. The meeting is a makeup from two weeks ago when snow and freezing rain battered the Washington, D.C. area. Wall Street is expected to hang on every word, especially those regarding the recent weather and its impact on the economy over the last six weeks.

Note: The Fed's 2014 taper means volatility ahead. So we've outlined how to find profits in a volatile market - like triple-digit gains in just days - if you start with this strategy...

U.S. Economic Calendar, Feb. 24, 2014

  • Chicago Fed National Activity Index at 8:30 a.m.
  • PMI Services Flash at 9 a.m.
  • Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey at 10:30 a.m.
  • 4-Week Bill Announcement at 11:00 a.m.
  • 3-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
  • 6-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
  • FDIC Director Thomas Hoenig Speaks at 3:50 p.m.

Key Companies Reporting Earnings, Feb. 24, 2014

  • Consensus earnings per share for Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HTZ) is $0.32.
  • Consensus earnings per share for SolarCity Corp. (Nasdaq: SCTY) is -$0.55.
  • Consensus earnings per share for EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is $1.92.
  • Consensus earnings per share for Frontier Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: FTR) is $0.06.
  • Consensus earnings per share for Palo Alto Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: PANW) is -$0.03.
  • Consensus earnings per share for Kosmos Energy Ltd. (NYSE: KOS) is -$0.01.

Others Reporting Earnings

  • Armstrong World Industries Inc (NYSE: AWI), GT Advanced Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: GTAT), El Paso Electric Company (NYSE: EE), Trex Company, Inc. (NYSE: TREX), Scorpio Tankers Inc. (NYSE: STNG), Endocyte, Inc. (Nasdaq: ECYT ), TGC Industries, Inc. (Nasdaq: TGE), Commtouch Software Ltd. (TLV: CTCH).

Today's just-released profit report from our tech expert: My "Sominex Strategy" for Big Profit in This Rocky Market

About the Author

Garrett Baldwin is a globally recognized research economist, financial writer, consultant, and political risk analyst with decades of trading experience and degrees in economics, cybersecurity, and business from Johns Hopkins, Purdue, Indiana University, and Northwestern.

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