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Good morning! For Dec. 16, 2015, here's the top stock market news and stocks to watch…
Stock Futures Today
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average today (Wednesday) previewed a 77-point gain ahead of this morning's opening bell. European stocks pushed higher during today's trading session after a positive day for most major Asian markets.
Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 156 points as investors await today's FOMC decision on whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will hike interest rates for the first time since 2006. Financial stocks surged ahead of the announcement. Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C), and Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) all gained more than 2.8% yesterday.
Top News in the Stock Market Today
- The Stock Market Today: This is it! The Fed Open Market Committee concludes its final meeting of the year, and markets are eager for an afternoon meeting where Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen is expected to make a big announcement. Traders expect the Fed will finally end its zero-interest-rate policy (ZIRP) and increase its benchmark rate for the first time since 2006. But this isn't the only big event on the economic calendar. Traders will eye critical November reports on U.S. industrial production and housing starts.
- Activist Woes: Billionaire manager of the hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management Bill Ackman told his clients that this year is likely going to be his firm's worst ever. In a 17-page letter, Ackman tracked his negative performance but said very few customers have asked for their money back. Ackman has seen a lot of money disappear on paper after incorrect calls on Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) and Platform Specialty Products Corp. (NYSE: PAH).
- Oil Outlook: Oil prices were falling again this morning on news U.S. crude inventories increased for the week and on expectations the Fed will boost interest rates. January WTI prices were down 1.3% at $36.87 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent oil crude – priced in London – fell 2.2% to hit $37.66. Later this morning, the U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly report on domestic crude inventories.
Earnings Outlook: ORCL, FDX, JOY, PIR, JBL, HGR, MLHR, AAV
- Earnings Report No. 1, ORCL: After market close, Oracle Corp. (NYSE: ORCL) will report fiscal second-quarter earnings. Wall Street expects an EPS report of $0.61 on top of $9.094 billion in revenue.
- Earnings Report No. 2, FDX: Before the market opens, FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) will report second-quarter earnings. Wall Street analysts projected per-share earnings of $2.53 on $12.435 billion in revenue.
- Additional companies reporting quarterly earnings include Joy Global Inc. (NYSE: JOY), Pier 1 Imports Inc. (NYSE: PIR), Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL), Herman Miller Inc. (Nasdaq: MLHR), and Advantage Oil & Gas Ltd. (NYSE: AAV).
Stocks to Watch: VRX, WBA, P, GE
- Stocks to Watch No. 1, VRX: Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) were up another 3% in pre-market hours despite news the company slashed its 2015 earnings outlook and reduced expectations for its 2016 performance. Company CEO Michael Pearson is expected to testify before Congress on rising specialty drug costs, as well. The company saw shares surge more than 16% yesterday after signing an agreement with benefits manager Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA).
- Stocks to Watch No. 2, P: The Copyright Royalty Board – a three-judge panel – will rule today on the royalty rates companies will pay record companies for music over the next five years. Royalties are the single biggest expense for online radio services like Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P) and Spotify.
- Stocks to Watch No. 3, GE: Shares of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) were up marginally this morning after the GE stock price neared a 52-week high. This stock was facing the gallows back in 2008 during the financial crisis, but what has happened since is something every investor needs to know, whether you're considering picking up GE shares, selling them, or hanging onto them. Money Morning Capital Wave Strategist Shah Gilani explains how to play GE stock in 2016.
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- MBA Mortgage Applications at 7 a.m.
- Housing Starts at 8:30 a.m.
- Industrial Production at 9:15 a.m.
- PMI Manufacturing Index Flash at 9:45 a.m.
- EIA Petroleum Status Report at 10:30 a.m.
- FOMC Meeting Announcement at 2 p.m.
- FOMC Forecast at 2 p.m.
- Fed Chair Press Conference at 2:30 p.m.
What Investors Must Know This Week
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- Grab Triple-Digit Gains from This "Stealth" Tech Star
- The Real Reason for China's Insatiable Gold Lust