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Dow Jones Industrial Average News, 3/17/2016: Another day, another glorious ride on the oil price roller coaster. Global oil-producing nations aren't worried about what Iran is thinking anymore. OPEC and non-OPEC leaders have said they will proceed with a meeting to discuss a global production freeze (with or without) Iran in April. Fifteen nations – representing 73% of global oil production – have agreed on to the initiative. With prices driving the markets in the wake of the U.S. Federal Reserve's conservative stance on interest rates, energy and materials stocks are why the Dow Jones rallied today.
WTI oil prices jumped above $40 per barrel for the first time all year, and global energy giant Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) saw shares jump 1.6%.
Here's the top market stories for Thursday, March 17, 2016.
First up, check out the results for the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 17,481.49; +155.73; +0.90%
S&P 500: 2,040.59; +13.37; +0.66%
Nasdaq: 4,774.99; +11.02; +0.23%
Now, here's the top stock market news today…
DJIA Today: Fed in Focus, Biotech Bust, and Office Supply Acquisitions
The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 155 points as the markets largely ignored the incoherence coming from the Fed's post-conference meeting on Wednesday. The Dow finally turned positive for 2016, wiping out the 2,000-point drop that it experienced in the beginning of the quarter.
While the Federal Reserve decided yesterday to hold interest rates unchanged in the face of increasing global economic risks, mortgage rates surged for the third consecutive week. The 30-year mortgage rallied to 3.73%, while the average 15-year ticked up to 2.99%.
It was a brutal day for healthcare stocks. The iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index ETF (Nasdaq: IBB) fell 1.2% as the biotech sector continues to underperform. Shares of Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) fell 4.7% and were the biggest drag on the sector, while Endo International Plc. (Nasdaq: ENDP) cratered 11.4%. ENDP hit a three-year low after the firm slashed its first-quarter outlook below Wall Street expectations.
It isn't another day at the office without another rumor about potential mergers. This afternoon, shares of Office Depot Inc. (Nasdaq: ODP) jumped 10.8% after a report that suggested Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) could be looking to take a stake in the firm's corporate business division. AMZN stock fell 2.6% on the news.
On the economic front, it was a positive day for U.S. data. Weekly unemployment claims sat at 265,000 for the week ending March 12. It has now been 54 weeks that weekly claims have been below 300,000, which is the longest streak since 1973. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Fed Index turned positive for the first time in seven months, a sign that U.S. manufacturing is improving.
But here's the story that generated all the buzz today. The U.S. dollar hit an eight-month low after the Federal Reserve decided to stand pat on monetary policy. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of 10 major competitors, fell 1.2%. The dollar fell 1.1% yesterday.
Now, let's look at the day's biggest stock movers and your stock pick of the day…
Top Stock Market News Today
- It was another bad day for activist investor Bill Ackman as Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) showed no sign of even a dead-cat bounce. Ackman is selling shares in order to cover his falling stake in the Canadian drug maker. Shares of Mondelez International Inc. (Nasdaq: MDLZ) fell 2.3% after Ackman cut his stake in the global snack maker back to 5.6%, a decision that required the sale of 20 million shares. In an effort to reduce investor concerns about the firm's cash position, Ackman sent a letter to investors on Wednesday stating they have no other plans to sell shares from their other positions, citing "substantial uninvested cash."
- On the earnings side, FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) beat earnings expectations for the third quarter. The firm reported an adjusted EPS of $2.51 on revenue of $12.7 billion.
- After significant protest, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) announced it will halt the breeding of orca whales at its theme parks. The firm says the water park's theatrical program will be eliminated after a few years.
- Finally, here are your stock picks of the day. Oil prices might be on the rise, but they're well below the 52-week high of $65.71 per barrel. This is a perfect time to buy strong energy companies with strong operations and stronger balance sheets. And one company – with strong refinery operations – is poised to show huge profits as oil prices continue to lift off in the coming months. Best of all, it lives in the sweet spot of the oil market.
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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.