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Stock market today, Feb. 20, 2015: Good morning! Stock market futures for Friday, Feb. 20, forecasted a 26-point decrease from yesterday's close. The Dow Jones shed 44 points Thursday on falling oil prices and the ongoing impasse over Greece's debt. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) was the Dow's biggest loser, falling 3.21%. The company slashed its sales outlook, blaming a stronger dollar for potential weakness.
This morning, investors focus on Greece and the nation's ongoing pursuit of a deal to extend its debt obligations to European Union partners. Talks have already broken down twice and yesterday, Germany rejected a new plan from the Greek government, calling it a "Trojan horse."
"We are not discussing the continuation of the program," Greek spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said after the rejection. "The Greek government will maintain this stance today, although conditions have matured for a solution to be found at last."
Negotiations are expected to continue into the weekend. Greece has until the beginning of June to provide a suitable plan to its European creditors. If the country cannot strike a deal, it may default and fall out of the Eurozone.
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 Friday:
- BP Rejected: Shares of BP Plc. (NYSE ADR: BP) dipped early this morning on news that a federal judge rejected the company's bid to reduce the maximum civil fine it may face over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP could be fined $13.7 billion under the nation's Clean Water Act. The company attempted to reduce its liability to $9.57 billion, or a maximum of $3,000 per barrel spilled. The judge has still not decided how much BP must pay. By 9 a.m. ET, shares had recovered to 0.32% pre-market.
- The Apple Car: Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) hit an all-time intraday high Thursday as optimism grows about the company's electric car project. According to Bloomberg, Apple plans produce its own electric vehicles by 2020. Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald shared his thoughts on what an Apple car might look like – as well the approach investors should take as the overall market and Apple stock at record highs – here…
- Tax Troubles: Shares of Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU) jumped more than 3.3% in post-market hours (and remains up 3.7% pre-market today) after reporting a smaller-than-expected earnings loss. The news is positive in the wake that its TurboTax software was susceptible to tax scammers earlier this month. U.S. tax fraud has increased threefold in three years and now costs taxpayers $5 billion annually. Avoid getting scammed out of your tax refund with these five tips…
- No Deal: Shares of Sysco Corp. (NYSE: SYY) slipped nearly 3% on news that U.S. regulators are attempting to block the company's merger with U.S. Foods Inc. The Federal Trade Commission wants to block the proposed $3.5 billion deal because it would combine the nation's two largest food distributors. The firms are the only two in the nation capable of providing coast-to-coast delivery solutions to clients like restaurants, hotels, and school cafeterias. Sysco has hired a team of lawyers to push back against the announcement.
- Oil Prices Today: Oil prices turned positive this morning. March 2015 futures for U.S. crude, priced at the NYMEX in New York City, jumped 1% to hit $51.65 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent crude, priced in London, added another 1% to hit $60.82 per barrel.
- Earnings Reports: Today, expect earnings results from Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE), Choice Hotels Int'l Inc. (NYSE: CHH), Barnes Group Inc. (NYSE: B), Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (NYSE: COG), Iron Mountain Inc. (NYSE: IRM), and Standard Register Co. (NYSE: SR).
Full U.S. Economic Calendar February 20, 2015 (NYSE: all times EST)
- Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations at 10 a.m.
Money Morning Tip of the Day: There is always opportunity in chaos, and the Greek debt crisis is no different. The best way to profit is to make the three trades outlined below.
Today's tip comes from Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald:
Greece is the single most important thing happening in the markets right now. Although it's taking place thousands of miles away, you need to understand how it will affect you.
Simply put, Greece lied to get into the EU, managed its finances terribly, and now wants to renege on its obligations… or at least renegotiate them.
Greece owes some 320 billion euros to its creditors. And now they're refusing to pay it back.
There are three possibilities for what happens next: (1) Greece departs the euro ("Grexit"), (2) the ECB forces new regulations on Greek banks, or (3) an agreement is reached at the last minute.
No matter what the outcome, here's what to do now to ensure you profit from the coming chaos:
- Bet against the euro by buying the ProShares Short Euro (NYSE Arca: EUFX). Critics claim this trade is getting crowded, but it still has a ways to go, especially if there's a Grexit.
- Buy short-term U.S. Treasuries or other extremely low-risk bonds – world traders will bid these up in the event of an exit.
- Make up your "Buy" list and get ready to pick up shares of big, must-have companies like Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) when they go on sale.
Make those moves and when the mainstream media proclaims the end of the financial universe as we know it, you'll already be set up for big gains.
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.