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The Dow Jones today closed slightly higher, rising 19 points. The S&P 500 Index gained for its third consecutive session, and the Nasdaq was up 1.3%. The S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX) dipped more than 14% on the day.
What moved the Dow: The Dow Jones was held back from more substantial gains Monday after International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) released disappointing earnings results this morning. The stock declined by more than 7%, falling to a three-year low. IBM also announced it has abandoned its 2015 earnings forecast. The world's largest tech company continues to struggle as the hardware sector continues to grow more commoditized. This is the 10th consecutive quarter for which IBM reported a decline in sales.
Most notable economic news: With nearly 130 S&P 500 companies scheduled to report this week, today's economic calendar was light, with the exception of three speeches by members of the U.S. Federal Reserve. This morning, Fed Governor Jerome Powell avoided discussion of monetary policy and instead offered a prepared speech on the role of the central bank in supervising community banks. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo said that banks should reward employees who not only increase revenue, but also identify risks that could harm the bank or lead to financial losses.
Dow: 16,399.67, +19.26 (+0.12%)
S&P 500: 1,904.02, +17.26 (+0.91%)
Nasdaq: 4,316.07, +57.64 (+1.35%)
Now, here's a breakdown of today's other top stories and stock performances:
- Playing Defense: In an effort to target hackers in the wake of multiple data breaches at U.S. companies, Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) has begun taking steps to increase its security for customer accounts. The company has created an automated service that searches the web for stolen passwords and credentials. If the company finds a match, it notifies the user that they should change their password and log-in information. Shares of Facebook more than doubled from July to September, and the company is expecting to see stronger growth in its advertising revenue after the release of its Atlas platform.
- Big Winner: Shares of Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) were up nearly 1% on news that the oilfield services provider beat Wall Street quarterly estimates. The company reported earnings of $1.28 per share, besting expectations of $1.19 per share. The company also announced plans to increase its quarterly dividend to $0.18, a jump of 20%. Halliburton is one of the latest companies to increase its dividend. Last week 23 dividend stocks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS), raised payouts. Here's a roundup of dividend stocks that increased payouts for the week ending Oct. 17.
- Activist Investing: Hedge fund Paulson & Co., the top shareholder of Allergan Inc. (NYSE: AGN), has urged the Botox manufacturer to merge with specialty pharmaceutical company Shire Plc. (Nasdaq ADR: SHPG). Paulson & Co. is also the third-largest shareholder of Shire. The news comes the same day that Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) may increase its bid for Allergan Inc. Valeant's CEO hinted toward an increased bid after Allergan reported a higher than expected earnings report. Shares of Allergan increased nearly 1% on the day.
- Bouncing Back: Shares of Blackberry Ltd. (Nasdaq: BBRY) were up more than 8.5% this afternoon on news that the company's newest phone, the Passport, has been selling out in several markets. This is positive news for a company that has lost most of its market share to rival Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) over the last few years as the iPhone surged in popularity. Apple reports earnings after the closing bell today.
- The Deal Is Off: Shares of both CSX Corp. (NYSE: CSX) and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd (USA) (NYSE: CP) fell 1% after the companies announced they ended talks about a merger. The deal, which would have been valued at roughly $62 billion, would have combined the United States' third-largest rail operator and Canada's second-largest rail firm. Canadian Pacific hinted in a statement that regulatory concerns were one of the primary reasons why the deal fell through.
Now for three of today's best profit opportunities from our investing experts – for Money Morning Membersonly (Not a Member? Sign up now – it's free):