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For Feb. 4, 2016, here's the top stock market news and stocks to watch based on today's market moves…
How Did the Stock Market Do Today?
Dow Jones: 16,416.58; +79.92; +0.49%
S&P 500: 1,915.45; +2.92; +0.15%
Nasdaq: 4,509.56; +5.32; +0.12%
The Dow Jones Industrial Average today (Thursday) gained 79 points ahead of tomorrow's critical January jobs report. Markets received a strong boost from materials stocks, which jumped 3.8% thanks to rising gold and silver prices and ChemChina's $43 billion deal to purchase Syngenta AG (NYSE ADR: SYT).
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) – Wall Street's fear gauge – was up 0.8%.
On the economic front, the Challenger report indicated layoffs hit their highest levels in six months in January. According to the report, retail and energy companies issued the most pink-slips last month. Meanwhile, the U.S. Labor Department reported that jobless claims jumped to 285,000 last week, far more than economists had anticipated.
Top Stock Market News Today
- Stock Market Today: Five of 10 major S&P sectors were on the rise today. It was a tough day for retail stocks as chain stores reported weaker than expected sales in January. Shares of Macy's Inc. (NYSE: M), Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), and JC Penney Company Inc. (NYSE: JCP) all slipped more than 2% on the day. Shares of Kohl's Corp. (NYSE: KSS) cratered 18.8% after it slashed its full-year earnings outlook and reported very weak sales during the holiday quarter.
- Obama Budget: The White House today proposed a $10 per barrel fee on oil as part of President Obama's new budget. The tax will be used to pay for investments in clean transportation, including mass transit, high-speed rail, and self-driving cars. The plan is likely to face significant opposition from the Republican-controlled Congress.
- Oil Prices Drop: Crude oil prices slipped lower after the President's proposal hit the airwaves. WTI crude oil – priced in New York – fell 1.7% to hit $31.72 per barrel. Meanwhile, Brent crude – priced in London – dipped 1.7% to hit $34.46 per barrel. Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) gained 1.7%, while shares of Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) gained 0.2%.
- On Tap Tomorrow: On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department will issue the January unemployment report. With U.S. layoffs hitting a six-month high and concerns about the Fed's December rate decision, tomorrow's jobs report will have a big role in the Dow's daily performance. In addition, keep an eye out for the weekly oil rig count from Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI).
- Companies set to report quarterly earnings include Estee Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL), Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE: TSN), Moody's Corp. (NYSE: MCO), AMETEK Inc. (NYSE: AME), CME Group Inc. (Nasdaq: CME), USG Corp. (NYSE: USG), and Aon Plc. (NYSE: AON).
Stocks to Watch: GPRO, RDS.A, RL, HAS, MAT
- Stocks to Watch No. 1, GPRO: Shares of GoPro Inc. (Nasdaq: GPRO) slumped 8.7% after the company's quarterly outlook was far below Wall Street expectations. Even though the company claims to hold 85% of the market for action-camera devices, the firm reported a dismal holiday season.
- Stocks to Watch No. 2, RDS.A: Shares of Royal Dutch Shell Plc. (NYSE ADR: A) gained 3.6% today despite reporting its worst annual earnings in 13 years. The company announced that fourth-quarter profits fell by 56% compared to the same period last year. The company announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs as part of a broader cost-cutting program.
- Stocks to Watch No. 3, RL: Shares of Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) plunged more than 22% after the retailer badly missed fiscal third-quarter bottom-line revenue expectations and slashed its annual forecast. Wall Street projected the company would report an EPS of $2.10 on top of $2 billion in revenue. Although Ralph Lauren reported a strong EPS of $2.27, the firm underwhelmed with a revenue figure of $1.9 billion during the third quarter. The firm is currently engaged in a dramatic reorganization effort that includes $110 million in cost cutting.
- Stocks to Watch No. 4, HAS: Shares of Hasbro Inc. (Nasdaq: HAS) gained 1.2% on news the company held merger talks with toy manufacturing rival Mattel Inc. (Nasdaq: MAT).
What Investors Must Know This Week
- Where We'll Find Our Biggest Profits This Year
- What a Chinese Stock Market Crash Means for Investors
- Your "Buy List" to Profit from Volatility in 2016