The Dow Jones Industrial Average is getting a boost from the positive jobs report this morning. At 8:30 a.m., the U.S. Labor Department announced the U.S. economy added 242,000 jobs in February, crushing economists' expectations of 195,000.
With so much happening this morning, let's tackle your top stock market news, stocks to watch, and economic calendar for March 4, 2016.
Dow Futures Today
Dow Jones futures forecast a 49-point gain as unemployment fell to an eight-year low. Today's jobs report placed greater emphasis on the timing of the next interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve. According to CME FedWatch, there is a 61% probability that the central bank raises interest rates at some point this year.
Here's a breakdown of what could move the Dow Jones today:
- Yesterday, the Dow added 34 points and oil prices were flat. Traders took a breather ahead of what will likely be a very wild day on Friday.
- Today, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that the monthly American trade deficit is comically bad. In January, the trade deficit expanded to $44 billion from $43.4 billion in December. That's part of the reason why the U.S. government announced it will impose a 266% tariff on steel 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.
- U.S. traders weren't the only individuals weighing the performance of the U.S. economy last month. This morning, European stocks were flat, while the Shanghai Composite index added just 0.5%.
- Following the death of former Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) CEO Aubrey McClendon, U.S. authorities are going to drop a criminal indictment against him. McClendon died in a single-car crash this week, a day after Federal authorities accused him of violating antitrust laws.
- Oil prices will be on the move later today when Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) announces its weekly production rig count. This morning, WTI oil prices were just shy of $35 per barrel, while Brent crude added 1.1% to hit $37.50 per barrel.
Now here's your list of top stocks to watch in today's market, plus today's economic calendar...
Earnings and Stocks to Watch in Today's Market
- Who is ready to pay more for a movie ticket? This morning, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. (NYSE: AMC) announced it will purchase rival Carmike Cinemas Inc. (Nasdaq: CKEC) for $1.1 billion, including debt. The deal will create the world's largest movie theater chain. Shares of Carmike added more than 15% on news of the deal.
- Shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) jumped more than 8% after the firm announced stronger top- and bottom-line quarterly numbers than Wall Street had anticipated.
- On the earnings side, pay attention to reports from Staples Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS), Big Lots Inc. (NYSE: BIG), Vanguard Natural Resources LLC (NYSE: VNR) and Hemisphere Media Group Inc. (Nasdaq: HMTV).
- Struggling technology giant Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) is exploring a sale of $1 billion to $3 billion in patents, properties, and other "non-core assets. Shares were up marginally in pre-market hours.
- This morning, shares of Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE: TSN) slipped more than 1.1% after BB&T Corp. (NYSE: BBT) cut the stock's rating from "Buy" to "Hold." The bank said that the global food producer maintains a strong balance sheet, but it couldn't offer enough positives to maintain a strong rating.
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- Employment Situation at 8:30 a.m.
- International Trade at 8:30 a.m.
- Baker Hughes Rig Count at 1 p.m.
- Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Rob Kaplan speaks at 1 p.m.
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About the Author
Garrett Baldwin is a globally recognized research economist, financial writer, and consultant with degrees from Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Purdue, and Indiana University. He is a seasoned financial and political risk analyst, with a focus on stocks, hedge funds, private equity, blockchain, and housing policy. He has conducted risk assessment projects for clients in 27 countries, and consulted on policy and financial operations for some of the nation's largest financial institutions, including a $1.5 trillion credit fund, a $43 billion credit and auto loan giant, as well as two of the largest Wall Street banks by assets under management.
Garrett joined Money Map Press as an economist and researcher in 2011, specializing in alternative strategies with an emphasis on fundamental and technical analysis.