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The Dow Jones today rallied triple digits for the second straight session on expectations that the European Central Bank will take more aggressive action to stave off deflation and debt crisis, coupled with swirling optimism for the U.S. economy.
This morning, weekly jobless claims came in 4,000 fewer than economists expected for the week ending Jan. 3. For all of 2014, American employers announced a total of 483,171 job cuts – a 5% decline from 2013 and the smallest total since 1997.
Tomorrow, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the December U.S. jobs report.
Dow: 17,907.87, +323.35, +1.84%
S&P 500: 2,062.14, +36.24, +1.79%
Nasdaq: 4,736.19, +85.72, +1.84%
What Moved the Markets Today: Nine of 10 S&P sectors were up more than 1% on the day, with technology stocks like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) leading the way. Energy traders continue to seek a bottom for crude oil prices, although today's slight bump could be temporary as optimism for the U.S. economy fueled today's rally.
Now, here's a breakdown of the top stories from the stock market today:
- Stocks to Watch: Shares of AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) surged 7.59% Thursday on news that activist investing hedge fund Starboard has sent another letter to Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer advising her company to purchase the online media company. Both firms have been the subject of deal rumors this week. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) was considering a deal for AOL, which the company's CEO denied. Meanwhile, Twitter stock (NYSE: TWTR) jumped Tuesday on rumors it may target Yahoo for acquisition in the coming months.
- An Apple a Day: Apple stock (Nasdaq: AAPL) jumped more than 3.8% this afternoon on news the company reported record sales from its App store and announced plans to partner with eight different credit unions as it expands Apple Pay. According to reports, the new partnerships could bring as many as two million new customers to the mobile-payments service. Money Morning Tech Expert Michael A. Robinson argues that Apple stock has nothing but upside ahead in 2015. Be sure to watch his recent interview here.
- Biotech Boom: Shares of Bind Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: BIND) jumped more than 85% intraday on news the company enrolled its first patient in a mid-stage trial for a lung cancer treatment. Meanwhile, shares of Neurocrine Biosciences Inc. (Nasdaq: NBIX) were up more than 25% on the day on news the company's endometriosis drug showed positive results in the first of two late-stage studies.
- Cutting Costs: Global soft drink giant The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) announced its latest measures in a $3 billion cost-cutting drive to appease shareholders. The company said today it will eliminate 1,600 to 1,800 jobs and signaled further cuts in the future. Shares of KO were up more than 1% on the day. Meanwhile, shares of its rival PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) jumped 1.82% as speculation continues that the food-and-beverage company could be an acquisition target of Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital Partners.
- Retailer Rally: Retail stocks had a strong trading session as companies continued to report strong sales during the holiday season. The S&P Retail Index (NYSE Arca: XRT) jumped 1.35% on the day. Shares of Urban Outfitters Inc. (Nasdaq: URBN) were up 3.7% on the day. Meanwhile, shares of Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS) were up more than 4.9%, and shares of Buckle Inc. (NYSE: BKE) were up 3.7%.
Now our experts share some of the most important investment moves to make based on today's market trading – for Money Morning Members only:
- The Perfect "Anti-Trend" Play: Between its crushing debt, aging population, lack of a workable immigration policy, and decades of abysmal fiscal policy, Japan is in trouble – thus Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald recommended shorting the currency via ProShares UltraShort Yen (NYSE Arca: YCS). It's returned more than 116% since the Japanese yen was at 76 to the dollar. But it's far from the only way to play Japan at the moment…
- How to Invest Like a CEO – and Beat the Market by 40%: After digging into a recent survey on CEOs, Money Morning Tech Specialist Michael Robinson figured out exactly where today's leaders will be spending their dollars in the next five years. And he wants to show you how to invest like a CEO to take advantage of those long-term spending trends in a way that beats the market by 40%…
- 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…