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Stock market news today, March 18, 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared 181.55 points on Monday to close at 16,247.22. The Nasdaq gained 34.55 points to close at 4,279.95, while the S&P 500 added 17.70 to finish the day at 1,858.83.
Five Biggest Stories in Today's Stock Market, March 18, 2014
- All Eyes on Janet Yellen: The Federal Open Market Committee kicks off its second meeting of 2014 this morning. This will be the first policy-making meeting overseen by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen as head of the central bank. With the U.S. job market hovering at 6.7%, the committee must decide when it will raise interest rates and whether it will continue its plans to taper QE3.
- Ukraine Crisis Spreads: Uncertainty in the Ukraine is hammering Europe's currency and its largest economy. The euro slid below $1.39 against the U.S. dollar this morning on news that German investor confidence cratered to an eight-month low over continued worries about the Crimean Crisis. Germany's ZEW indicator dropped 9.1 points to 46.6, while expectations were set at a reading of 53. This is the lowest level for the figure since August. Despite the decline, economists expect it will not hinder Europe's recovery. This morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement to annex Crimea.
- Banks Behaving Badly: Federal regulators have opened two new probes into General Electric Co.'s (NYSE: GE) retail credit business Synchrony Financial, according to documents released ahead of the arm's planned initial public offering. The government is questioning whether the division violated consumer protection laws over "debt cancelation products" and whether they discriminated against Spanish-speaking customers, in separate events. The announcement of two new probes by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau follows a December settlement over allegations that its medical credit branch, CareCredit, failed to explain loan terms to customers according to federal guidelines.
- Video Game Wars, Part 2: In an effort to capture market share from companies like GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME), superstore Wal-Mart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) announced plans to create its own video game trade-in program. Wal-Mart will launch its program on March 26 through its network of nearly 3,100 stores and will complement the company's mobile device trade-in platform launched in 2013. The pre-owned video game market represents a $2-billion industry. Shares of GameStop are down more than 8% in premarket hours.
- List of Recalled GM Automobiles: Yesterday, General Motors Co.'s (NYSE: GM) CEO Mary Barra announced the automaker had made a series of mistakes over the last decade, as the firm announced a massive recall of 1.5 million vehicles. The recall includes approximately 1.2 million cars over air bag problems, such as 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook SUVs, 2008-2013 Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia sport-utility vehicles, and 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse SUVs. The firm is also recalling 63,900 Cadillac XTS sedans from 2013-2014 and 303,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans from 2009-2014.
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U.S. Economic Calendar March 18, 2014
- FOMC Meeting Begins
- ICSC-Goldman Store Sales at 7:45 a.m.
- Consumer Price Index at 8:30 a.m.
- Housing Starts at 8:30 a.m.
- Redbook at 8:55 a.m.
- Treasury International Capital at 9:00 a.m.
- 4-Week Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
Key Companies Reporting Earnings March 18, 2014
- Consensus earnings per share for Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HTZ) is $0.32.
- Consensus earnings per share for Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (NYSE: MBT) is $0.42.
- Consensus earnings per share for Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL) is $0.70.
- Consensus earnings per share for FactSet Research Systems Inc. (NYSE: FDS) is $1.22.
- Consensus earnings per share for DSW Inc. (NYSE: DSW) is $0.29.
- Consensus earnings per share for Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) is $0.25.
Others Reporting Earnings
- Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (YGE), Consolidated Water Co. Ltd. (CWCO), Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. (PSUN), Renren Inc. (RENN)
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