Dow Jones and S&P 500 Close at Record Highs Today, BABA Frenzy Continues

Dow Jones Today, Sept. 18, 2014: U.S. markets soared again Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index both closing at record levels. Investors continue to eye the U.S. Federal Reserve, which said it will maintain a low interest rate for some time but plans to increase the rate in quick spurts as the economic recovery continues.

Here's the scorecard from today's trading session:

Dow: 17,265.99, +109.14 (+0.64%)
Nasdaq: 4,593.42, +31.24 (+0.68%)
S&P 500: 2,011.36, +9.79 (+0.49%)

On the international front, investors are keeping a sharp eye on Scotland today, as voters are divided on whether to declare independence from the United Kingdom. Although many have said that an independent Scotland will create massive geopolitical problems, and its leading banks have threatened to leave the country, the nation's credit would improve. According to S&P Capital, Scotland, as an independent nation, would have a credit rating of bbb+, one notch above the United Kingdom's bbb rating.

Here's a breakdown of today's other top stories and stock performances:

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  • Billions for BABA: Early investors in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) are already set to make a cool $8 billion before the company goes public tomorrow (Friday). Eager to avoid the "lock up" period that would prevent them from selling for several months, investors are heading for the exits to capture their gains. Alibaba could raise up to $25 billion when it goes public.
  • Amazon Unleashed: Tech giant Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) dominated the tech news today after it unveiled a number of new gadgets to rival its chief competitors. The firm introduced a $100 tablet and a new high-end electronic-reader that it believes provides the closest reading experience to plain, white paper. Shares of Amazon were up nearly 3.5% in intraday trading. Although AMZN stock could see a pullback when Alibaba goes public, here's how the two companies differ - and ultimately how Amazon can shake off the Alibaba IPO.

  • Merger Mania: Shares of America Online Inc. (NYSE: AOL) were up more than 3% on news that the company could be sold to tech rival Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO). According to an investor note by BGC Partners, there is speculation that Yahoo! could use its financial windfall from the Alibaba IPO to purchase the iconic Internet brand. Yahoo owns 22.4% of Alibaba and has a clause that will force it to reduce its holdings at the time of the Chinese e-commerce giant's initial public offering. Here's the history of Yahoo's stake in Alibaba, and what's next...
  • Falling Expectations: Shares of Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) plummeted nearly 20% today after the company slashed its 2014 profit outlook. The company said it expects smaller profits than anticipated from its pharmacy, as the company lost exclusivity on a number of drugs. Rite Aid cut its forecast during its second-quarter earnings report and said its net profits were $127.8 million, or $0.13 per share.
  • The Rich Get Richer: Finally, the financial "recovery" since the Great Recession began has dramatically improved the nation's wealth. But although poverty levels finally decreased this year, it was the richest of the rich who saw the greatest return on centralized planning efforts like quantitative easing versions 1, 2, and 3. According to a report released by the Federal Reserve, the nation's collective wealth jumped from $55 trillion in 2009 to $81 trillion in 2014. The report indicates that it's now more difficult to be a part of the 1% wealthiest Americans. The minimum wealth level needed to join the ranks increased from $2.3 million in 2009 to $2.4 million in 2011. Once we see the post-stimulus era figures, it could be significantly higher.

Now our experts share some of the most important investment moves to make based on today's market trading - for Money Morning Members only:

  • 252 Million Years Ago, This Nearly Wiped Out All Life... Tomorrow, It Could Solve Our Energy Problems: According to an April study issued in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, permafrost soil, which typically remains frozen all year, is thawing and decomposing at an accelerating rate. But after a shocking discovery, it seems something locked in the soil could become the fuel of the future... and you could profit big off the new revolution.


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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