Today's stock market report, Mar. 19, 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.55% on Tuesday 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.
U.S. stock futures are up this morning as markets remain calm but guarded over Russian President Vladimir Putin's assurances on future intervention in Ukraine. Nonetheless, global markets were up and down ahead of today's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting announcement at 2:30 p.m. EST.
Five Biggest Stories in Today's Stock Market, March 19, 2014:
- Blame It on the Weather: The Federal Open Market Committee will make its bi-monthly announcement after its two-day meeting at 2:30 p.m. Highlights are expected to focus on the impact of winter weather on the Fed's policy, forecasts, and guidance. More importantly, investors are looking for the Fed to adapt forward guidance and explain how it will behave once unemployment levels reach 6.5%.
- Smart Fashion: On Tuesday, Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) announced the "Android Wear" project to develop watches and other wearable computer devices using its Android operating system. Reuters reports that software makers will now be able to develop mobile apps for wearable media through their network. These devices, set for launch later this year, will allow users to connect to their phones and other devices and monitor personal health metrics like heart rates. Google is attempting to make a splash where Samsung couldn't with the launch of its widely criticized Galaxy Gear.
- A Massive Toyota Settlement: This morning, the U.S. Justice Department may announce a record $1 billion settlement with automaker Toyota Motors (NYSE: TM) over its handling of consumer complaints related to unintended acceleration. According to the Washington Post, Toyota misled the Justice Department over a probe into safety issues since it began in 2009. This settlement comes on the heels of a massive recall by Toyota's rival General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), which is also likely to face fines and probes over its handling of safety issues and complaints as far back as 2004.
- Here Come the Sanctions… and the Satire: Now that Russia has officially annexed the Crimean region back under Moscow's control, the U.S. and the West are planning their next moves. The nations are expected to enact sanctions, free assets, and set visa bans on the leadership responsible for the annexation. There was even one rumor that the U.S. had frozen President Vladimir Putin's Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) account, but the story turned out to be a brilliant satire piece by the Borowitz Report.
- Licensing Costs on the Rise: Online music provider (and pusher of consistently loud advertising) Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) announced it will raise subscription fees to its monthly ad-free service in May by $1. The increase will cover the ever-rising cost of licensing music from artists. According to company reports, artist royalties have increased by more than 53% in the last five years. These fees, which are paid to recording royalty group RoyaltyExchange, are likely to increase by 9% by 2018.
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U.S. Economic Calendar March 19, 2014 (all times EST):
- MBA Purchase Applications at 7 a.m.
- Current Account at 8:30 a.m.
- EIA Petroleum Status Report at 10:30 a.m.
- FOMC Meeting Announcement at 2 p.m.
- Chair Press Conference at 2:30 p.m.
Key Companies Reporting Earnings March 19, 2014:
- Consensus earnings per share for FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) is $1.46.
- Consensus earnings per share for General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) is $0.63.
- Consensus earnings per share for GUESS? Inc. (NYSE: GES) is $0.79.
- Consensus earnings per share for KB Home (NYSE: KBH) is $0.08.
Others Reporting Earnings:
Today's Top Investing Story: The Best Play for a Scary Market