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Dow Jones today: U.S. stock markets roared again on Friday following a "surprise" announcement from the Bank of Japan and strong earnings reports from energy giants Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX). Both the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 closed at a new record today.
Let's take a look at today's scorecard.
Dow Jones: 17,390.52 +195.10 (1.13%)
S&P: 500 2,018.05 +23.40 (1.17%)
Nasdaq: 4,630.74 +64.60 (1.41%)
What moved the Markets: Japan's central bank announced it will engage in widespread stimulus efforts to stave off deflationary pressures. The Bank of Japan announced plans to hike purchases of government bonds and long-term bonds. The central bank also said it would triple purchases of exchange-traded funds and real-estate investment trusts. What surprised many observers did not surprise Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald.
"Am I surprised? No. Is everybody else? Yes," Fitz-Gerald said. "I have been a lone voice in the wilderness on this for a long time and telling investors that exactly this would happen."
Most notable economic news: This morning, the October reading for U.S. consumer sentiment hit a seven-year high. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's final October reading hit at 86.9, as positive momentum continues from September's 84.6 reading. The economic indicator is a gauge of personal financial expectations and economic optimism.
Here's a breakdown of today's other top stories and stock performances:
- Another Disaster: The second accident for commercial space travel and transport struck the U.S. this afternoon. One pilot has died and another was seriously injured after a Virgin Galactic's flagship vehicle SpaceShipTwo crashed in the Mojave Desert. The National Transportation Safety Board has opened an investigation. The tragedy occurs just days after the Antares rocket exploded after takeoff on Tuesday night. That crash caused shares of Orbital Sciences Corp. (NYSE: ORB) to drop by more than 14%.
- Gas Prices Fall: The national average for a gallon of unleaded gasoline fell below $3.00 for the first time since 2010. Motor Club AAA said that the average price is likely to fall below $2.90 per gallon as global oil prices continue to fall. According to their report, Americans are saving more than $250 million per day since gasoline prices began falling from $3.68.
- Reversal of Fortune: Shares of Groupon Inc. (Nasdaq: GRPN) surged more than 22% this afternoon following relatively positive earnings. However, the company also provided a weak guidance looking forward for the fourth quarter. Despite today's surge, it's important that investors hear one important warning about this stock heading into November: Don't buy Groupon.
- A Done Deal: On Friday, an important deal was announced that could cool geopolitical problems in a hotspot we've covered here time and time again. A new deal will ensure delivery of natural gas to Europe, preventing a shortage and ensuring that Vladimir Putin won't freeze out the Western economies in the coming months. Russia has committed to delivering natural gas if the Ukrainian government pays off a $2.2 billion debt and prepays for its energy.
- Energy Surge: Shares of Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) jumped more than 2.3% this on news the company reported stronger-than-anticipated earnings. With oil prices declining, the company will remain in focus over the coming years, as it has planned five major projects to boost its annual production levels by 20% by 2017. Meanwhile, shares of its rival Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) were up more than 2.3% on earnings of $1.89 per share. Although the company's oil and gas production slipped by nearly 5%, Exxon reported strong profits in its refining and chemicals businesses.