Stock Futures Today Slip 24 Points on SYY, POM, and BRK.A News

For May 18, 2015, here is the top stock market news, pre-market movers, and stocks to watch, and stock futures today...

Stock Futures Today

U.S. stock futuresstock futures today for Monday, May 18, forecast a decline of 23 points from Friday's close. The dip comes against a big week of speeches from Members of the Fed Open Market Committee and a number of earnings reports from big-box retailers, who are coming off a weak March-ending quarter due to supply chain problems and harsh winter weather.

The DJIA Index limped across the finish on Friday, adding 20 points, after mixed economic data suggested that the U.S. economy is not growing as quickly as economists had anticipated. Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) was the largest contributor to the S&P 500's decline on Friday by falling 1.3%.

Top News in the Stock Market Today

  • The Stock Market Today: Fresh off a new S&P 500 record high, investors will turn their attentions to two speeches by Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans this week. One is by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Friday, and Wednesday's release of the FOMC meeting minutes from April. Investors are seeking insight from the divergent opinions among Fed members on when the central bank might raise interest rates.
  • Looking Abroad: In China this morning, April housing price data fell for the eighth straight month, renewing concerns on whether or not recent interest rate cuts may help abate a hard landing in the nation's property market. Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan released March industrial production data, and the nation's continued efforts to weaken its currency have not had a dramatic effect on improving exports.
  • Earnings in Focus: Companies reporting earnings on Monday include JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (Nadsaq: JASO), Urban Outfitters Inc. (Nasdaq: URBN), and Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A).
  • Oil Prices Today: Oil prices look to continue their rise after the sector just completed its ninth-straight week of gains. Geopolitical concerns in Iraq and Yemen were pushing prices higher. WTI crude futures for June were up 1.4% this morning at $60.53 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent oil was up nearly 0.5% at $67.33 per barrel.

Pre-Market Movers in the Stock Market Today: JASO, POM, EXC, HTZ

  • Pre-Market Movers 1, JASO: Shares of JA Solar Holding (Nasdaq: JASO) are down more than 2% even after the company released positive March-ending earnings. As our energy expert Dr. Kent Moors explains, the decline of oil prices from record highs in June 2014 hasn't affected the renewable energy sector as much as experts previous thought. And it all comes down to one simple metric that could make investors wealthy...
  • Pre-Market Movers 2,  POM: Shares of Pepco Holdings Inc. (NYSE: POM) and Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) were on the move this morning on news that the State of Maryland has formally approved their $6.9 billion merger. The deal was held up by critics in the Delmarva region who argued that the consolidation of the two companies would lead to higher electricity rates for customers.
  • Pre-Market Movers 3, HTZ: Shares of Hertz Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HTZ) continue to move on news that the car-rental agency plans to hike its fees. In June, the company said it will boost U.S. airport retail car-rental fees by $5 per day and $20 a week. At non-airport locations it will increase rates by $3 per day and $10 a week.

Stocks to Watch Today: SYS, DE, JPM, BRK.A, IBM, WFC, KO, AXP

  • Stocks to Watch No. 1, SYS: U.S. food distributor SYSCO Corp. (NYSE: SYY) could face a $1 billion bill if the company's proposed merger with private rival U.S. Foods fails to obtain regulatory approval over antitrust concerns. A combination of legal, integration, and termination fees would nearly top ten figures, but the addition of capital costs pushed it over the top. Before its formal announcement, the deal seemed highly risky due to its nature of combining the two largest companies in the food distribution industry, a sector that already lacks significant competition.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 2, DE: Shares of Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) are in focus as the company plans to report earnings on Friday. Last Thursday, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) downgraded DE shares over new concerns regarding financing in the agricultural sector. The investment bank expects a credit crunch in the coming year that could affect investment in the agricultural technology industry.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 3, BRK.A: It's Warren Buffett's market, and we're just investing in it. On Friday, the iconic investor's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A) announced in a 13-F that it has hiked its stakes in International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM), Wells Fargo Co. (NYSE: WFC) and Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), while slashing its holdings in Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: M), Charter Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: CHTR), and Viacom Inc. (Nadsaq: VIAB). Despite IBM's recent struggles, Buffett says he's standing behind Big Blue as part of his "Big Four" investments that also includes Wells Fargo, The Coca Cola Co. (NYSE: KO), and American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP).

Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)

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  • Housing Market Index 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.

What Investors Must Know This Week

About the Author

Garrett Baldwin is a globally recognized research economist, financial writer, consultant, and political risk analyst with decades of trading experience and degrees in economics, cybersecurity, and business from Johns Hopkins, Purdue, Indiana University, and Northwestern.

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