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Dow futures today were flat this morning compared to the Dow close on Friday. On Monday, the markets were closed in observance of Presidents' Day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average came off the holiday weekend at 18,019.35.
This morning the DJIA will be keeping an eye on events in Europe, as geopolitical concerns threaten a sustained rally for equities markets. Over the weekend, pro-Russian separatists insisted they have no plans to honor a ceasefire agreement that would have reduced violence in eastern Ukraine. Their pronouncement puts the deal in question. Meanwhile, debt talks between Greece and the European Union collapsed on Monday. The EU is attempting to increase pressure on Greece to honor the terms of its international financial rescue program. Shares of National Bank of Greece (NYSE ADR: NBG) slipped more than 11% in pre-market hours.
Here's what else you should know about the stock market today – including your "Money Morning Tip of the Day" – to make it a profitable Tuesday:
- Seaport Showdown: U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said he would meet with negotiators of both the dockworkers' union and the maritime association, which represents shipping companies. West Coast seaports were shuttered over the weekend as a strike continues to affect U.S. import operations. The port slowdown has already had a pronounced effect on manufacturing and retail operations across the United States. This weekend, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE ADR: HMC) announced plans to cut production at three North American manufacturing plants due to a shortage of parts caused by the port slowdown. The ongoing shutdown is likely to affect first quarter GDP figures in the United States.
- Cybercrime Update: A surge in cybersecurity breaches has payment companies increasingly concerned about customer confidence in their products and services. Over the weekend, Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) and MasterCard Inc. (NYSE: MA) have announced plans to boost their cybersecurity features for online transactions. MasterCard has invested at least $20 million in its new features including biometrics and cyber protection. These efforts come after a number of breaches that include those that hit Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD), and health insurer Anthem Inc. (NYSE: ANTM).
- An App for That: Shares of tech giant Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) are up to all-time highs in pre-market hours over growing optimism in the firm's secret company-branded electric vehicle. The tech giant reportedly has several hundred employees working on a self-driving electric car. The firm is also in discussions with experts at carmakers and automotive suppliers. The project, nicknamed Titan, has a design that resembles a minivan. Apple CEO Tim Cook approved project Titan last year, and assigned former Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) engineer Steve Zadesky to lead the project team. Zadesky helped lead the project teams that created the iPod and iPhone.
- Regulators Rush: The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a new rule that would make it illegal for Amazon.com Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AMZN) Prime Air drone delivery system to operate in the United States. Amazon unveiled the 30-minute drone delivery service last year during an episode of "60 Minutes." On Sunday, the FAA proposed new rules for drones in commercial airspace. The biggest hurdle is that any drone in the air would need to stay in the within sight of its operator at all times. That would make it impossible for drone operators in an Amazon office to deliver packages across a city. The company is pushing the FAA to move faster with its decisions so that the company can make decisions about the future of its service.
- Oil Prices Today: Oil prices continue to climb, with Brent closing in on a 2015 high. March 2015 futures for U.S. crude, priced at the NYMEX in New York City, jumped 0.2% to hit $52.89 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent crude, priced in London, surged another 2% to hit $62 per barrel. Shares of Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) were up marginally this morning, while Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) was in the red.
- Earnings Reports: Today, expect earnings results from Waste Management Inc. (NYSE: WM), Potbelly Corp. (Nasdaq: PBPB), Medtronic Inc. (NYSE: MDT), Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (NYSE: GT), Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN), AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE: AMC), and CF Industries Holdings (NYSE: CF).
Full U.S. Economic Calendar February 17, 2015
- Empire State Manufacturing Survey at 8:30 a.m.
- Housing Market Index at 10 a.m.
- E-Commerce Retail Sales at 10 a.m.
- 4-Week Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 3-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- 6-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Plosser speaks at 12:45 p.m.
- Treasury International Capital at 4 p.m.
Money Morning Tip of the Day: The only thing standing between your portfolio and catastrophic loss is your own caution and proper risk management.
Today's tip comes from Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald:
Risk management may not be the most exciting part of investing. But it is the most important.
And a tool called "position sizing" stands out above all others as the most powerful, and not just for cutting risk either, but for boosting your profits, too.
The concept is simple. Controlling the amount of money you place in each trade can lead to bigger profits and mitigate the risk of a catastrophic loss.
Position sizing is the science of cutting risk in your portfolio down to the bone. It answers the question "How big should I make my position for any one trade?"
Many investors think they have this covered with trailing stops that take them out of an investment when some predetermined limit is hit.
Position sizing is different. It's about determining how much of something you can buy for maximum profits, or even if you can afford to buy in the first place.
Understanding position sizing will put you miles ahead of other investors who spend all their time wondering what to buy while ignoring the critical question of how much to buy.
To learn three different methods for sizing your positions, with step-by-step instructions for each, go here: This One Risk Management Tool Made the Difference Between Bankruptcy and $13 Million