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The Dow Jones shed 44 points Thursday. The cause? Falling oil prices and the ongoing impasse over Greece's debt.
Dow Jones: 17,985.77, -44.08, -0.24%
S&P 500: 2,097.45, -2.23, -0.11%
Nasdaq: 4,924.70, +18.34, +0.37%
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) was the Dow's biggest loser today, falling 3.21%. The company slashed its sales outlook, blaming a stronger dollar for potential weakness.
Priceline Group Inc. (Nasdaq: PCLN) jumped 8.46% this afternoon, making the stock the largest percentage gainer on the Nasdaq and S&P 500 today.
What Moved the Markets Today: On the international front, "caution" remains the watchword for the markets as uncertainty remains over Greece's ability to reach a compromise over its debt. The German finance ministry rejected a Greek proposal to extend its international bailout program.
Oil prices fell again today due to oversupply concerns after data revealed another huge glut from weekly crude inventories. Brent slipped 0.5% on the day to hover near $60 per barrel, while WTI slipped more than 1.5% to hit $51.29 per barrel.
Now, check out the other top market stories – plus get our new profit tip for investors:
- Payday: Workers at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. can expect a raise this April. The company announced plans to boost compensation for its U.S. employees to at least $9 an hour. The guaranteed raise will outpace the federal minimum wage by 24%. The company joins firms like Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), Costco Wholesale Corp. (Nasdaq: COST), and Aetna Inc. (NYSE: AET), all of which plan to boost pay higher than the federal mandate. The move is expected to reduce turnover and improve the hiring pool for the companies. Shares of rival Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) slipped more than 0.8% after Wal-Mart's announcement. Analysts expect the retail sector will see more internal pressure for rising wages.
- Energy Blues: The no-so-good week for Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) continued this afternoon. XOM stock slipped 1.73% after crude oil prices fell again today. XOM shares slipped earlier this week after a refinery explosion in California and again later on news that Warren Buffett and George Soros dumped their stakes in the energy giant in the fourth quarter.
- Credit Karma: Shares of American Express (NYSE: AXP) slipped more than 2% this morning on news the company violated U.S. antitrust laws. Today a federal judge said the credit card giant violated rules by preventing merchants from asking customers to use one credit card instead of a higher-fee card like Amex. The company said its policy helped it remain competitive against larger rivals like Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) and MasterCard Inc. (NYSE: MA). This is the second major blow for the company in a month after the news that Costco Wholesale Corp. would no longer accept American Express as its exclusive credit card.
- An Apple a Day: Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) hit a new all-time intraday high this afternoon. The stock remains hot after it received a pair of upgrades from two desks. Global Equities Research upped its target for AAPL stockto $165 on Tuesday, while Cantor Fitzgerald raised its target to $160. Despite those lofty projections, famed activist investor Carl Icahn thinks that the stock is worth way more. "This is not a future price target," Icahn wrote in a Feb. 11 open letter. "$216 is what we think Apple is worth TODAY." For a breakdown of why Apple stock is a must own in 2015, be sure to learn why the stock is undervalued here.
- Take a Picture: Shares of GoPro Inc.(Nasdaq: GPRO) were flat this afternoon, a day after the stock slumped more than 11%. Yesterday, shares of GPRO stock cratered after a circuit breaker triggered a short-sale restriction of the company's stock. With a huge amount of GPRO options set to expire Friday, prospective buyers are hoping GoPro shares continue their slide and create an opportunity to scoop up the stock. However, Money Morning recommends staying away from the portable sports cam manufacturer for now – here's why…
Money Morning Tip of the Day: Cybersecurity stocks are volatile now, but offer huge upside potential when held over the long run. The best way to play them today is the new cybersecurity ETF.
Today's tip comes from Money Morning Executive Editor Bill Patalon:
Cybercrime has grown into a full-fledged global security crisis – one that costs the global economy more than $575 billion per year.
Just look at these recent developments:
- Russian cybersecurity firm Kapersky Lab issued a report Monday stating a hacking ring has lifted as much as $1 billion from banks around the world.
- The new White House budget earmarks $14 billion for cybersecurity initiatives.
- U.S. President Barack Obama gathered dozens of CEOs, tech-sector insiders, academics, government officials, and experts at a recent cybersecurity summit.
This underscores that cybersecurity is a high-growth business.
Cybersecurity investments feature the same short-run risks as other high-growth-rate businesses. In other words, they can be volatile. But if held over the long term, cybersecurity stocks can pay off handsomely.
Another way investors can profit from the cybersecurity market without the near-term volatility is to buy shares of the PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (NYSE: HACK).
This exchange-traded fund debuted in November and benchmarks the ISE Cyber Security Index. HACK lets you invest in a basket of about two dozen stocks, most of which are small-cap firms with high growth potential.
For a closer look at the $575 billion cybersecurity market and why HACK is a great investment to make today, check out yesterday's "Private Briefing": The One Stock to Buy – If You Can't Afford to Spend a Million Bucks a Day…