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The Dow Jones today surged another 421 points as investors continued to cheer the U.S. Federal Reserve's timeline for raising interest rates. Technology stocks led today's charge, with Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL) gaining 10% on strong quarterly earnings, and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) adding nearly 2.3%.
The S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX), the market's fear gauge, plunged more than 13.5% on the day.
Dow: 17,778.15, +421.28, +2.43%
S&P 500: 2,061.23, +48.34, +2.40%
Nasdaq: 4,748.40, +104.08, +2.24%
What Moved the Markets Today: Weekly jobless claims registered at 289,000, while the Philadelphia Fed Index pulled back significantly in the month of November. But investors continued to cheer the Federal Reserve's language from yesterday's Federal Open Market Committee statement. The central bank said it will remain "patient" with its timeline on when it might raise interest rates. The Dow Technology component fueled the market's run today, gaining more than 2.4%.
Now check out the biggest stories from the stock market today:
- Crude Reality: Oil prices slumped significantly on the day and are now down 50% since June. West Texas Intermediate crude, priced in New York, slipped nearly 3%, while Brent crude dropped 2.4%. Global investors are increasingly concerned about a supply glut at a time when global demand, particularly in China, is abating. Falling prices have forced producers to halt a number of upstream projects. Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) announced plans to curb a major project in the Arctic. Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) said it expects it will cut its capex budget approximately 20% below 2014 levels.
- Russian Regrets: The ruble gained against the U.S. dollar this morning after Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered statements on Russia's economy. Putin said the nation's central bank and government must work at containing inflation and the current economic calamity offers an opportunity to diversify the economy. Although Putin's statements stabilized the economy temporarily, the truth remains that Russia is falling into chaos. And Money Morning Global Energy Expert Dr. Kent Moors has advice on how to profit from the nation's decline.
- Strong Beat: Shares of Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) gained 11.88% on the day after the company reported stronger than expected earnings in pre-market hours. The company reported a huge win in comparison to its two previous quarters. The firm also boosted its 2015 sales outlook.
- Merger Mania: In an effort to boost its oncology holdings, Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) announced plans to purchase Swiss-based OncoEthix for up to $375 million. The deal includes an upfront payment of $110 million and incentives tied to sales and development milestones worth up to another $265 million.
- Change at the Top: Shares of Kraft Foods Group Inc. (Nasdaq: KRFT) jumped 6.4% this afternoon on news the company's chairman, John Cahill, will replace CEO Tony Vernon next week. Citing growing challenges in the global food industry, the company will be making the change just two years after Vernon assumed the role. He was instrumental in the company's transition after it spun off from its global snacks division that is now Mondelez International Inc. (Nasdaq: MDLZ).
Now our experts share some of the most important investment moves to make based on today's market trading – for Money Morning Members only:
- Three Tech ETFs That Will Double Your Money: Money Morning Tech 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. Here's 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…
- Three Scary Tech Stocks to Avoid in 2015: Just because 2015 will be a strong year for tech stocks doesn't mean every single one will be a winner in the New Year. With that in mind, let's take a look at 2015's three worst tech stocks. Tread carefully, though – their numbers may terrify you…
- 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…