Dow Jones Industrial Average Down Today as Oil Prices Slip

Good morning! For Dec. 30, 2015, here's the top stock market news and stocks to watch...

Stock Futures Today

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average today (Wednesday) forecast a five-point decline ahead of a light morning of economic data and the second-to-last full session of 2015.

Dow Jones Industrial AverageYesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 192 points as oil prices jumped and technology stocks surged. The S&P 500 jumped after two of its most traded stocks hit new records. Shares of Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL) added 1.5%, while Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) added 2.8%. Both stocks hit all-time intraday highs. All 10 major S&P sectors saw gains yesterday as the index pushed back into the green for 2015.

Top News in the Stock Market Today

  • The Stock Market Today: A very light economic calendar features a weekly report on MBA mortgage applications and the monthly Pending Home Sales Index. Oil prices will again be in focus when the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) announces its weekly petroleum inventory report in the morning.
  • Carl Icahn Watch: Activist investor Carl Icahn is making headlines this week. First, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (NYSE: FCX) stock is rebounding after a Monday sell-off fueled by the resignation of executive chairman James R. Moffett, who left the firm after Icahn announced an 8.5% stake in the mining giant. Meanwhile, Icahn Enterprises LP (Nasdaq: IEP) officially won the takeover battle for Pep Boys-Manny Moe & Jack (NYSE: PBY). The auto parts and service firm said Icahn's offer was superior to the offer from Bridgestone Corp. (OTCMKTS ADR: BRDCY), who later turned down a chance to hike the bid higher.
  • What Time Do Markets Close on New Year's Eve? As traders prepare for New Year's Day and the start to 2016, markets will close on Dec. 31 at their regular hour - 4 p.m. EST. The markets will be closed on Friday, Jan. 1, and regular trade will resume on Monday, Jan. 4.
  • Oil Outlook: Oil prices were ticking downward after the American Petroleum Institute said domestic crude oil inventories increased by 2.9 million barrels last week. Keep an eye on inventory data from the EIA this morning as consensus expectations call for a one-million-barrel decline in inventories. February's WTI prices were down 1.8% at $37.16 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent oil crude - priced in London - fell more than 1.1% to hit $37.37.
  • Earnings Outlook: No major U.S. companies report earnings on Wednesday.

Stocks to Watch: QCOM, VRX, BCS, DNKN, MSG

  • Stocks to Watch No. 1, QCOM: Shares of Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) continue to rally on news that the semiconductor giant has struck a patenting deal with two Chinese smartphone makers, Beijing Tianyu Communication Equipment Co. and Haier Group. Shares gained more than 2.6% yesterday.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 2, VRX: Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) have leveled off near $101.50 just days after cratering another 10%. The stock fell this week after its CEO J. Michael Pearson took medical leave for pneumonia. After a very volatile year for the stock, investors are wondering what's next for the embattled Canadian pharmaceutical giant. Here's our prediction for VRX stock in 2016.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 3, BCS: Shares of Barclays Plc. (NYSE ADR: BCS) were off in pre-market hours on news the financial company is set to pay more than $13.8 million to settle regulatory charges. U.S. authorities allege the company violated mutual fund transaction rules over a five-year period.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 4, DNKN: Shares of Dunkin Brands Group Inc. (Nasdaq: DNKN) were ticking up this week after the company announced a partnership with Madison Square Garden Co. (NYSE: MSG). The company will boost its advertising space during NBA, NHL, and WNBA games at the iconic sports arena, and Dunkin Donuts will be considered the official coffee of three New York sports teams: the Knicks, the Liberty, and the Rangers.

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

  • MBA Mortgage Applications at 7 a.m.
  • Pending Home Sales Index at 10 a.m.
  • EIA Petroleum Status Report at 10:30 a.m.
  • 7-Year Note Auction at 1 p.m.
  • Farm Prices at 3 p.m.

What Investors Must Know This Week

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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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