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Are you ready for Friday's jobs report? The markets are. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 34 points and oil prices were flat. Traders are taking a breather ahead of what could be a very wild day on Friday when the U.S. Labor Department announces the February unemployment rate. Even though the numbers suggest that not much happened on the floor of U.S. exchanges, there was plenty of news on Thursday, March 3, 2016, that will affect your money.
First up, check out the results for the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
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Dow Jones: 16,943.90; +44.58; +0.26%
S&P 500: 1,993.40; +6.95; +0.35%
Nasdaq: 4,707.42; +4.00; +0.09%
Now, here's the top stock market news today…
DJIA Today: Yahoo's Sale, Gold Surges, and Protectionism Returns to Economy
Weekly jobless claims were much higher than economists had expected, raising questions about Friday's release of the February unemployment report. The report – released tomorrow morning by the Labor Department – is expected to state that the U.S. economy added 190,000 jobs last month, compared with 151,000 in January. The report will influence the U.S. Federal Reserve's timing this year on interest rates. According to CME FedWatch, there is a 61% probability the central bank will increase rates at some point this year.
Gold prices rallied more than 1.5% as investors flocked to safety. Money Morning Resource Investing Specialist Peter Krauth has been at the front of this metals rally, arguing that negative interest rates and extremely loose monetary policy around the globe are creating a perfect storm for gold prices. Anyone who doubts it should take a look at what happened today to shares of mining equipment manufacturer Joy Global Inc. (NYSE: JOY). Shares popped 21% after the firm maintained its 2016 forecast and hinted that mining activity is about to really start heating up.
Steel stocks surged on news the U.S. government will impose a 266% tariff on products from China. The excess tax will help domestic companies stabilize in the wake of a flurry of low-price imports that have driven U.S. steel prices to six-year lows. Shares of AK Steel Holding Corp. (NYSE: AKS) gained 2.6%, while United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) saw shares pop 8.7%. This is the second time the U.S. government has penalized foreign producers for dumping products into the American market.
But the big talk today was about struggling technology giant Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO). Shares were off 0.1% this afternoon despite news that its CFO told a conference today the firm is exploring a sale of $1 billion to $3 billion in patents, properties, and other "non-core assets." The exploration goes against what activist shareholder Starboard Value has pushed for in recent weeks: a sale of its core Internet business. The hedge fund and Yahoo have avoided a proxy battle for now, but many speculate that unless the company gives Starboard Value control of its board in the coming months, a potential shareholder revolt could transpire during Proxy Season.
Now, let's look at the day's biggest stock movers and today's can't-miss investment secret…
Top Stock Market News Today
- Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) stock is still in free fall. Shares plunged 7% on news the firm overstated the amount of new members who have joined. The firm cited database errors, but Bill Ackman will likely argue the company is engaging in some illicit behavior. Ackman has long argued that Herbalife is engaged in a Ponzi scheme.
- Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) founder Bill Gates is on his own island after stating that Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) should comply with government demands to unlock the iPhone of a San Bernardino shooter. Today, 16 companies – including LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) and Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) – filed briefs supporting Apple in its encryption dispute. It was a rare stand of solidarity among Silicon Valley competitors as they filed an amicus brief in the firm's appeal of a court order that would make them unlock the shooter's iPhone.
- Cleanup in aisle five. Shares of The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) fell nearly 7% after the nation's largest U.S. supermarket operator missed quarterly sales expectations.
- Finally, here's an investment secret that you're not going to find anywhere else. If you want peace of mind and steady investment returns, you're going to want to use this strategy. With the volatility needle shaking like there's an earthquake in the markets, the best way to ensure reliable returns on your investment is to invest in a specific type of company that will weather the current storm and provide both strong dividends and significant appreciation upside. Learn all about these companies, right here, and get started on a strategy that will fill your retirement with wealth and happiness.
What Investors Must Know This Week
- These Four Charts Have Every Wall Street Pro Worried
- Grab Double-Digit Gains with This Tech Overachiever
- The One "Investment" You Can't Afford to Be Without