U.S. oil prices closed at a year-to-date high of $37.90 today, pulling energy stocks, material stocks, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average higher. Crude prices have been extremely volatile over the last year, but the latest round of market speculation is that OPEC and several non-cartel nations are looking for a price floor of roughly $50 per barrel. They could be in for a surprise, however, if daily U.S. shale production – which is poised to fall by more than 100,000 barrels in April – gets another boost and reignites concerns about a global glut in supply. But that's not the only thing that happened today…
Here's what you might have missed on Monday, March 7, 2016.
First up, check out the results for the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 17,073.95; +67.18; +0.40%
S&P 500: 2,001.76; +1.77; +0.09%
Nasdaq: 4,708.25; -8.77; -0.19%
Now, here's the top stock market news today…
DJIA Today: Apple Hacked, Manning Retires, Brent Crude Back Above $40
Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) dipped 1.1% on news its customers were the subject of a cyberattack over the weekend. Reports indicate this is the first attack on Macintosh computers using "ransomware" software, according to research from cyber firm Palo Alto Networks Inc. (NYSE: PANW). Ransomware encrypts data on infected machines and then demands that users pay ransoms in digital currencies so they can obtain a key to unlock their data. AAPL's downturn weighed on the Nasdaq, which declined eight points on the day.
Future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the league. Manning won two Super Bowls during his career, and, in 2015, earned a whopping $12 million from endorsement deals that included DIRECTV, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., and Buick, a vehicle division of General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM). Manning has also been a longtime spokesperson for Papa John's International Inc. (Nasdaq: PZZA).
The big talk today centered on oil prices, which hit a new 2016 high. WTI crude prices ticked up to $37.90 per barrel, while Brent crude settled at $40.84 per barrel. The rally came after the United Arab Emirates' energy minister announced crude prices are set to see a correction by the end of the year. The correction is expected to come as more global producers are forced to freeze output. Here are the three types of oil companies that will yield profits from the "Great Oil Turnaround" of 2016…
Now, let's look at the day's biggest stock movers and Money Morning's top stock picks…
Top Stock Market News Today
- Merger and acquisition chatter was running at a fever pitch today with a slew of potential deals and speculations floating around trading floors. These are the latest examples of how both domestic and foreign companies are struggling to achieve growth organically and have to rely on large-scale mergers to boost growth and shareholder value. First up, shares of Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC) and Pepco Holdings Inc. (NYSE: POM) were on the move after the two utility companies introduced new measures that could satisfy regulator requirements regarding a merger between the two firms. EXC stock gained 1.7% on the day, while shares of POM fell 0.8%.
- Shares of Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) popped 4.3% after a report from The New York Post said the semiconductor firm is exploring a sale. The report indicated rival Broadcom Ltd. (Nasdaq: AVGO), which recently merged with Avago, as a potential suitor.
- The deal-making doesn't end there. Shares of German chemical giant BASF SE (OTCMKTS ADR: BASFY) were up 0.95% on news the firm is considering a counter bid for U.S. chemical conglomerate DuPont Co. (NYSE: DD). DuPont is currently in the process of merging with Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW). DuPont stock added more than 2.4% on the day.
- Nope, we're not done yet. Shares of Reynolds American Inc. (NYSE: RAI) jumped 0.1% on news the firm could be targeted by British American Tobacco Plc. (NYSEMKT ADR: BTI). British American currently has a stake in RAI, but the deal would give it complete control of the tobacco producer.
- Last week, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE VRX) missed its quarterly report and shares plunged accordingly. Today, it was technology firm COMSCORE Inc. (Nasdaq: SCOR), which saw shares crater 33.6% after the firm announced it will not meet the 10-K filing deadline. The company also announced plans to suspend its share-buyback program. This may have a happy ending at some point, though. Today, shares of VRX surged 7.1% after the Canadian firm said it will issue its earnings report next week.
- After the bell, keep an eye out for an earnings report from U.S. retailer Urban Outfitters Inc. (Nasdaq: URBN). Company shares gained 1.8% ahead of the earnings report.
- Finally, here is the latest list of the best stocks to buy now as the Dow Jones Industrial Average teeters around its psychologically significant 17,000 level. Every week, our investing gurus choose the best stocks to buy now given current market conditions. And this week's list is headlined by several pharmaceutical giants poised to gain more than $1 billion in profits from their pipelines of life-saving drugs. Read the list, right here.
Despite today's modest gains, investors are still wondering if we're heading for a stock market crash, correction, or bear market. Here's what our Money Morning experts predict will happen in 2016…
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