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The S&P 500 and other major benchmarks soared today on news the European Central Bank (ECB) has launched a massive bond-purchasing program. The U.S. dollar hit an 11-year high against the euro on the news.
Dow: 17,813.98, +259.70, +1.48%
S&P 500: 2,063.15, +31.03, +1.53%
Nasdaq: 4,750.40, +82.98, +1.78%
What Moved the Markets Today: Investors were shocked to hear the ECB's stimulus package will clock in at 60 billion euros a month, up from the 50 billion euros a month many had anticipated. The bank also said it will keep interest rates unchanged. But investors did have reason to remain cautious about the U.S. economy. Jobless claims continue to tick upward. For the third straight week, Americans seeking unemployment benefits exceeded 300,000. A number of corporations like American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP), Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI), and Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) have all announced steep layoffs heading into 2015.
Now, check out the other top stories from the stock market today:
- Apple Stock Watch: Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) were up 2.6% this afternoon on news the company's iPhone 6 products continue to surge in popularity in China, Japan, and Korea. Analysts are forecasting the firm will announce shipments of nearly 60 million iPhones during its fourth-quarter earnings call next Tuesday. Apple stock has been steadily rising in anticipation of the earnings call.
- Earnings Blowout: Shares of Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) surged more than 8% today on new its profits increased by 71% due to plummeting fuel costs. Meanwhile, Union Pacific Corp. (NYSE: UNP) was up 4.75% on stronger earnings. The rail giant said an improving U.S. economy has boosted rail traffic and construction of rail track.
- Merger Mania: Shares of Family Dollar Stores Inc. (NYSE: FDO) jumped nearly 1.2% on news its shareholders have approved a deal to sell the company to rival Dollar Tree Inc. (Nasdaq: DLTR). With 89% of the vote, FDO shareholders chose a more certain deal than the one certain to face regulatory challenges from its other rival, Dollar General Corp. (NYSE: DG). Shares of Dollar Tree were up 3.6% on the day.
- Activist Approach: Carl Icahn is at it again. Today, the activist investor sent a letter to the CEO of Gannett Co. (NYSE: GCI) stating his intentions to nominate two new candidates to the firm's board of directors. Icahn, who has a 6.6% stake in the media firm, is pushing for changes in corporate governance and wants the firm to spin off its broadcasting division.
- Oil Prices Today: WTI crude oil prices slipped below $47 per barrel this afternoon on news the U.S. market has hit an 80-year high for supplies. The U.S. inventory report registered a level four times higher than analysts anticipated and renewed concerns about falling prices for a number of U.S. producers. Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) slipped 1.26% on the day. Meanwhile, domestic firms like Goodrich Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: GDP) continue to see their share prices erode as their bonds are trading at "distressed" levels.
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 the Terrorism "Trend" Is Moving Your Money Today: The recent terrorist attack in Paris has spurred the need for a difficult conversation. Here's the thing: The tragic irony in the financial world is that terrorism actually creates far more opportunity than it destroys. Money Morning Chief Financial Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald explains what this means for your money in 2015 and beyond…
- CES 2015: How to Profit from the Hottest Tech Trends: According to the Consumer Electronics Association trade group, Americans will buy 1.43 million UHDTV sets, or roughly 5% of televisions sold nationally, in 2016. That's a 60-fold increase from 2013, when UHDTVs debuted. And of course, there's big profit potential in all those UHDTVs our fellow Americans will be buying. So hit the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show 2015 with Money Morning Tech Specialist Michael A. Robinson to start profiting today…
- Why the 'Big Money' Still Believes in Auto Stocks: U.S. auto sales were up big in 2014 and are expected to stay strong in 2015. Oil prices have collapsed and gasoline prices are at their lowest in years, fueling demand for pickup trucks, SUVs, and RVs… Indeed, signs of a boom time for the American auto industry appear aligned, but auto stocks are trading at depressed values compared to the rest of the market. Are auto stocks ripe to buy, or are they simply a value trap? Here's the real answer.
About the Author
Garrett Baldwin is a globally recognized research economist, financial writer, and consultant with degrees from Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Purdue, and Indiana University. He is a seasoned financial and political risk analyst, with a focus on stocks, hedge funds, private equity, blockchain, and housing policy. He has conducted risk assessment projects for clients in 27 countries, and consulted on policy and financial operations for some of the nation's largest financial institutions, including a $1.5 trillion credit fund, a $43 billion credit and auto loan giant, as well as two of the largest Wall Street banks by assets under management.
Garrett joined Money Map Press as an economist and researcher in 2011, specializing in alternative strategies with an emphasis on fundamental and technical analysis.