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After all the cheerleading about the February jobs report, the markets ended relatively flat on the day, with the Nasdaq ticking into negative territory over the last hour of trading. Even though energy and materials stocks rallied, the telecom sector weighed down the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Investors are now turning their attention to the upcoming FOMC meeting and wondering how the U.S. Federal Reserve will interpret today's data set.
Here's what happened in the markets on Friday, March 4, 2016.
First, check out the results for the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 17,006.77; +62.87; +0.37%
S&P 500: 1,999.99; +6.59; +0.33%
Nasdaq: 4,717.02; +9.60; +0.20%
Now, here's the top stock market news today…
DJIA Today: 4.9% Unemployment, Crude Oil Surges, Fed in Focus
The U.S. economy is on a tear, according to the "official numbers" released by the U.S. Labor Department this morning. The unemployment rate hit 4.9% after the nation added 242,000 jobs. But despite the rosy figures, don't expect the Federal Reserve to simply jump in and hike rates. That's because both worker hours and wages declined, two figures that remain frustrating to the central bank in its quest to meet its annual inflation target. According to CME FedWatch, there is a 61.9% probability the central bank increases interest rates at some point in 2016.
And the White House was rapturous over the news…
Even though the U-6 unemployment rate still hovers near 9.7% and wages contracted, the White House took a victory lap on the economy today. President Obama said the U.S. labor market was the envy of the world and said the country is "pretty darn great right now." Do you agree? Sound off in the comments section below…
Oil prices finished the week strongly, with WTI crude gaining 9.6% on the week. Crude oil prices rallied to their highest level in over a month – thanks to some bullish comments from the International Energy Agency (IEA). Here's exactly what the IEA said that boosted the price of crude oil…
But the big talk today centered on news that the Government Accountability Office is going to investigate whether the Federal Reserve and other regulatory bodies are "too soft" in terms of policing U.S. banks. The decision came after two Congressional Democrats requested the increased scrutiny on behalf of American taxpayers. Congresswoman Maxine Waters of the House Financial Services Committee and Congressman Al Green of the Subcommittee on Oversight are determined to discover whether government officials are locked down by "regulatory capture" and thus provide preferential treatment to the banks they supervise.
Now, let's look at the day's biggest stock movers and today's stock pick…
Top Stock Market News Today
- The Apple vs. FBI plot thickens. The battle between the U.S. government and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) might seem about one company granting access to the data on one device, but the legal implications of this case go far beyond that. Here's the latest in the case and what it means for your technological privacy in the future.
- Gun stocks surged again today after Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: SWHC) reported its third-quarter revenue surged by 61% compared to the same period in 2015. The company's stock hit a new intraday record after it raised its 2016 full-year guidance. With gun ownership a hot political topic this election season, anticipate a record year for the manufacturer and its rival Sturm, Ruger & Co. (NYSE: RGR), which also hit a new record today.
- Shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (NYSE: HPE) surged more than 13% after the company shattered earnings expectations. Meanwhile, shares of chip manufacturer Broadcom Ltd. (Nasdaq: AVGO) added 6.4% on strong results.
- But it wasn't a rosy earnings day for H&R Block Inc. (NYSE: HRB). The tax preparation company announced a big quarterly loss and saw shares plunge nearly 16%.
- In a world of build or buy, companies are choosing the latter in order to build financial growth. Today, the big deal came from the cinema industry. Shares of Carmike Cinemas Inc. (Nasdaq: CKEC) popped more than 16% on news it will be purchased by rival AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AMC) for roughly $1.1 billion, including debt. Shares of AMC ticked up more than 5% on the day.
- Finally, here is your stock pick for Friday. Now, we're not recommending that you buy this stock. Instead, the perfect play is to short it. Why do we recommend that you short Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE: SHAK)? Simply put, this is a stock that has an absurd valuation. Here's why Shake Shack stock is poised to slump.
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