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DJIA Today, Dec. 16, 2014: The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 109 points Tuesday in yet another volatile trading session of triple-digit swings. The markets erased triple-digit gains from earlier in the session, while economic deterioration in Russia accelerated.
The S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX), the market's fear gage, jumped more than 14% on the day.
Let's take a look at today's scorecard.
Dow Jones: 17,071.38, -109.46, -0.64%
S&P 500: 1,972.97, -16.66, -0.84%
Nasdaq: 4,547.83, -57.32, -1.24%
What Moved the Markets Today: Oil prices were mixed today. WTI crude prices were flat, remaining just below $56 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent crude dipped more than 2% and temporarily fell below $59 per barrel for the first time in more than five years. New-home construction in the United States jumped above one million homes for the annualized rate last month. However, housing starts slipped by 1.6% and building permits fell by 5.2% in November. Both figures are critical forward indicators of future construction.
Here's a breakdown of today's other top market stories and stock performances:
- Dividend Boom: Shares of Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) were up more than 2.2% this afternoon on news that the company will hike its quarterly dividend and repurchase $12 billion of stock over the next three years. The company's dividend increased by 25%. Shares of 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM) also increased 1.4% on news that the company is also hiking its dividend. For a breakdown of 25 other stocks prepared to hike their dividends, be sure to visit here right now.
- Merger Mania: Falling energy prices are likely to fuel a fresh round of mergers and acquisitions. This morning, Spanish oil-and-gas giant Repsol SA (OTCMKTS ADR: REPYY) announced plans to purchase Talisman Energy Inc. (NYSE: TLM), a major Canadian energy supplier. Shares of Talisman soared more than 48% on news of the $13-billion deal. The acquisition gives Repsol a foothold into the booming North American energy market.
- The Big Buyback: Shares of CVS Health Corp. (NYSE: CVS) jumped more than 2.7% on news that the company lifted its 2015 guidance. This afternoon, the healthcare retailer announced it projects 2015 per-share earnings to fall in the range of $5.05 to $5.19. This is roughly a 12.5% to 15.5% increase over 2014 per-share earnings. The company also announced a $10 billion stock buyback program and a 27% hike to its quarterly dividend.
- Sanctions Surprise: This morning, the White House announced that U.S. President Barack Obama will sign a new bill that would slap new sanctions on Russia and provide weapons to Ukraine. The new sanctions will target Russian defense companies that were connected to geopolitical tensions in Ukraine this year. The news couldn't come at a worse time for the Russian economy, as the nation's currency is now at an all-time low against the U.S. dollar. The ruble fell by 11% against the dollar today, its largest single daily decline in 16 years. Confidence in the nation's central bank has plummeted after it recently hiked its interest rate to 17% to stave off capital flight.
- Tech Struggles: Shares of Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL) fell to a 13-month low this afternoon, sliding more than 3.4%. The slump came after a JP Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) analyst slashed his estimates on Google's financial performance and lowered his price target to $600. The decline came on the same day that the company announced a new "buy now" button on its shopping sites designed to target the "one click" sale icon of Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN). Shares of Amazon were down 3.5%.
Now our experts share some of the most important investment moves to make based on today's market trading – for Money Morning Members only:
- How We'll Profit from Europe's Secret "Plan B": During the depths of the European sovereign crisis, when Greece was inches from exiting the zone, others chose to not sit idly by. Instead, two member nations were surreptitiously preparing for a possible Eurozone breakup. Even more fascinating is what came next, as it appears preparations are still in active mode. Now, our Peter Krauth wants to give you a leg up on other investors who'll wish they knew as much as you…
- Three Tech ETFs That Will Double Your Money: Our technology specialist Michael A. Robinson is forecasting a strong year for stocks – and especially tech stocks – in 2015. And folks who pick the "right" profit plays can do even better than the market. Today, Michael's going to show you how to grab those market-trouncing gains – with three profit plays that appear tepid on their face, but are actually high-octane claims on the hottest slices of Silicon Valley growth. To start profiting today, click right here.
- One Stock That Will Profit from a New, Breakthrough Medical Direction: Modern medicine, for all of its sophisticated drugs, complex gadgets, and amazing surgical procedures, rarely cures anything. It treats. It manages. It postpones the inevitable. But return a patient to normal, optimal health? Rarely… So when an innovation comes along that can effect a complete and permanent remission of disease or restore damaged organs to a pristine state, it should cause your keenest investing instincts to perk up and pay attention…