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DJIA Today, Aug. 20, 2014: U.S. stocks were up Wednesday after the release of minutes from the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting in July. According to the minutes, the U.S. Federal Reserve was impressed by the resilience of the U.S. job market; however, the Fed plans to wait on its decision of when it will raise interest rates. The consensus view of the FOMC is that interest rates won't begin to move higher until at least mid-2015.
Here's the scorecard from today's trading session:
Dow: 16,979.13, +59.54 (+0.35%)
Nasdaq: 4,526.48, -1.03 (-0.02%)
S&P 500: 1,985.51, +4.91 (+0.25%)
Shares of Lowe's Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) rallied back after starting this morning in the red. LOW shares were up more than 1.5% despite cutting its 2014 sales outlook. TGT shares were up more than 2% despite cutting its yearly outlook and failing to meet second-quarter earnings expectations.
Shares of Hewlett-Packard Corp. (NYSE: HPQ) were down nearly 1% ahead of its quarterly earnings report. The company will report earnings after the closing bell this afternoon.
Meanwhile, shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) hit their highest intraday level since AAPL's 7-for-1 stock split earlier this year.
Here are more top stories from today:
- Pay Up: The largest settlement ever between a U.S. bank and the Department of Justice has been reached. Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) will pay $17 billion to settle a federal investigation into its role in the financial crisis through the sale of faulty mortgage-backed securities. The deal will see the bank pay $10 billion in cash and offer $7 billion in consumer relief. The deal dwarfs last year's settlement by Citigroup (NYSE: C) of $7 billion and beats the $13 billion settlement of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM).
- Buffett's Billions: The U.S. Department of Justice said that Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A) agreed to pay a civil penalty of $896,000 for violating premerger reporting and waiting rules during its recent deal to purchase voting securities of USG Corp. The company has been accused of violating antitrust laws earlier this year and of failing to inform regulators when converting USG notes back in December 2012. The news comes just days after the company's share price surpassed the $200,000 level for the first time.
- Merger Mania: Shares of International Rectifier Corp. (NYSE: IRF) soared a staggering 47% this afternoon on news that the company will be purchased by Germany's Infineon Technologies AG (OTCMKTS ADR: IFNNY). The $3 billion cash deal will likely close at the end of this year or in early 2015.
- Russian Retaliation: On the international front, the ongoing saga between Russia and the West reached a new level of tension after Russian watchdog Rospotrebnadzor temporarily shut down four McDonald's Corp. (NYSE: MCD) restaurants on charges that the company failed numerous food safety standards and violated sanitary laws. The watchdog declined to state whether the shutdown was in retaliation for economic sanctions from the United States and European nations on Russian interests.
- Profit Problems: It was a rocky day for alternative energy companies. Shares of JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (Nasdaq ADR: JASO) slipped more than 6% on news that the Chinese solar manufacturer missed profit estimates in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Real Goods Solar Inc. (Nasdaq: RGSE) saw shares plummet 17% after the company said it would replace its chief executive officer after a dismal third-quarter earnings report. Finally, shares of FuelCell Energy Inc. (Nasdaq: FCEL) slipped more than 7%.
Now our experts share some of the most important investment moves to make based on today's market trading – for Money Morning Members only: