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Traders shook off their holiday hangovers and pushed the markets higher despite another wild day of oil price swings.
Check out the big gains for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq today:
S&P 500: 1,895.58; +30.80; +1.65%
Nasdaq: 4,435.96; +98.44; +2.27%
DJIA Today: Bank Breakups and Hedge Fund Portfolio Shakeups
First up, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) alumnus and current Minnesota Federal Reserve Chair Neel Kashkari shocked the banking industry in his first public speech today by suggesting it may be time to break up the big banks and ending "Too Big to Fail." The statement is somewhat curious given that Kashkari was an adviser to former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen when the agency allowed all of the banks to consolidate and get even larger. He also ran the bailout fund, one that greatly benefited his former employer, a company known for creating waves of financial crises.
In other U.S. Treasury Department news, former agency head and Obama economic adviser Larry Summers has called for the United States to ditch the $100 bill. Why? Summers says that big denominations allow criminals to easily transfer large amounts of cash illicitly. He notes that $1 million in $100 bills weighs just 2.2 pounds, while the same amount in $20 bills weighs roughly 50 pounds. Making criminals carry that sort of weight would make it more difficult to engage in money laundering… or it would just lead to criminals with bigger muscles.
Next, bad news for activist manager Bill Ackman. Hedge funds are jumping ship on his favorite stock, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX), slashing stakes in the embattled drug company over the last quarter. The stock had been plunging due to concerns about the company's accounting and business practices. What are hedge funds buying instead? According to 13F filings, top managers are betting big on Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), and American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG). But you should ignore what hedge funds are doing given their dismal performance in 2014. Rather than pay outrageous fees, you can do it yourself and thrive as an independent trader using these strategies.
Finally, in commodity news, gold bugs are in a panic after the yellow metal saw its single-largest decline in roughly 12 months. Gold slid more than 2.8%, but investors shouldn't fret. With central banks around the world experimenting with negative interest rates and increased volatility, today is just a small blip for gold prices going forward. Money Morning Resource Investing Specialist Peter Krauth explains why gold performed better than every other metal today.
Now, let's look at the day's biggest stock movers and Tuesday's top stock pick.
Top Stock Market News Today
- Oil price volatility again dominated the headlines after optimism over production cuts by OPEC wilted in the Iranian heat. Brent crude prices slumped 3.6% to close at $32.18 despite news that several nations agreed to hold production at current levels; however, Iran told cartel partners they're not going to stop pumping crude as the struggling exporter rejoins the global crude market. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia would be taking a steep gamble trusting Russia and Venezuela, two cash-strapped nations that base the bulk of their economy on oil production. Multinational oil stocks like Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) added 0.3% and 0.5%, respectively. Shares of Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI) rallied more than 4%.
- Shares of Boeing Inc. (NYSE: BA) jumped 3.7%, offering the biggest boost to the Dow Jones, while retail stocks continued their weekly surge. Shares of Dillard's Inc. (NYSE: DDS), Kohl's Corp. (NYSE: KSS), and Sears Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD) were all up more than 4% today.
- The biggest gainer on Wall Street today was security giant ADT Corp. (NYSE: ADT). Shares surged nearly 48% after the company agreed to sell itself for $15 billion to private equity giant Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO). Other big moves included Groupon Inc. (Nasdaq: GRPN), whose stock surged more than 41% on news that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) has built a 5.6% stake in the flailing discount e-commerce site. GRPN stock is still trading under $5.
- The virtual reality wars heated up today on news Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL) plans to release a standalone VR headset in the near future. That's a big shot over the bow of Facebook Inc.'s (Nasdaq: FB) VR set Oculus, which requires an expensive home computer to operate. There isn't much certainty on when Alphabet may unveil this next-generation device, but investors were excited enough to buy GOOGL shares in heavy volumes. GOOGL stock rose 1.5%, while FB stock fell 0.4%.
- Finally, here's your stock pick for Tuesday, Feb. 16. Money Morning Defense & Tech Specialist Michael A. Robinson is bullish on the Emerging Markets Internet and E-Commerce ETF (NYSE Arca: EMQQ), which surged more than 5.3% today after his recommendation. The Chinese market may be taking a beating this year over growth concerns, but the size and potential of the nation's e-commerce market makes this ETF the fund to own over the long term. Shares are still trading on the low end, but that's poised to change soon. Here's why.
What Investors Must Know This Week
- The $600 Million Signal That Oil Prices Are About to Rise
- How to Prepare for a Global Recession in 2016
- This Easy Investing Strategy Can Lead to 2,426% Profits