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With the U.S. Federal Reserve offering dovish signals and central banks all around the world dumping stimulus in desperate attempts to spur growth, it's not really a surprise that the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied again today. The question is whether the rumor about a secret deal to prop up markets is true or not. Speculation is flying that the recent dollar decline is intentional – part of a secret "Shanghai Accord" designed to prop up the global markets. It reeks of conspiracy theory, but after seven years in which the Federal Reserve was responsible for 93% of all gains in the market – according to a very reputable research firm – nothing would be surprising anymore.
Here's what you need to know about the markets on Friday, March 18, 2016.
First up, check out the results for the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 17,602.30; +120.81; +0.69%
S&P 500: 2,049.56; +8.97; +0.44%
Nasdaq: 4,795.65; +20.66; +0.43%
Now, here's the top stock market news today…
DJIA Today: Chinese Buy Up U.S. Real Estate, Oil Prices Reverse
Healthcare stocks offered the biggest boost to the S&P 500, with shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) leading the way. Meanwhile, financial stocks pushed higher after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) gained 3.1%. Banking stocks rallied on news Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) both announced stock buyback programs.
Things keep getting worse for activist investor Bill Ackman. Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) fell another 9.1% as concerns about a pending default event are sending investors running for the exits. Money Morning Global Credit Specialist Michael Lewitt has been riding this stock down for six months, but pundits and analysts didn't believe him. Now, Michael explains how he saw this company's crash coming, and how we're preparing to make big returns on the next big short.
Oil prices slipped slightly on news that U.S. domestic rigs increased in number, according to a weekly report by Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI). Energy commodity prices reversed gains spurred by optimism grew that 15 OPEC and non-OPEC nations – representing 73% of global production – are poised to discuss a production freeze in April.
On the economic front, U.S consumer sentiment registered lower than economists had anticipated in March. The monthly reading hit 90, which is a five-month low, as consumers grew more concerned about rising fuel costs and prospects for the U.S. economy. Confidence took the biggest hit among low-income earners who were worried about rising prices.
But the big talk today was the ongoing trend of Chinese investors fleeing their homeland to buy up "trophy properties" across the United States. This morning, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: HOT) announced it was walking away from a deal with Marriott International Inc. (Nasdaq: MAR) and is instead considering a $13 billion cash deal from China's Anbang Insurance Group. The Chinese company has been buying up real estate – including the famous Waldorf Astoria – across the United States as they seek a place to put cash while the yuan depreciates. Anbang also recently announced the purchase of Strategic Hotels & Resorts from the Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX) for $6.5 billion. The deal turned heads because Blackrock purchased the company for roughly $6 billion just three months ago.
Now, let's look at the day's biggest stock movers and today's must-own stock…
Top Stock Market News Today
- Property remains a hot investment. MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) and Dubai announced plans to sell their Las Vegas luxury shopping center The Shops at Crystals to mall operator Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG) and Invesco Ltd. (NYSE: IVZ) in a deal worth about $1.1 billion.
- Shares of PayPal Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: PYPL) were off 1.3% after the company received a downgrade from investment firm Stifel over the payment processor's valuation.
- Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) is going to keep its 140-character limit, as if that's the most pressing problem for the company. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and one other company, said the firm has no plans to allow users to post tweets up to 10,000 characters.
- On the earnings front, shares of Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) were up 3% after the company reported quarterly earnings per share (EPS) of $1.46, beating Wall Street expectations by $0.06. The luxury jewelry company also reported better than expected bottom-line revenue and projected increasing sales during the second half of 2016. The company did face a 5.6% decline in Q4 sales as the stronger dollar affected international growth.
- Shares of Wynn Resorts Ltd. (Nasdaq: WYNN) rallied 5.9% after Macquarie Research analysts turned more optimistic about the Chinese casino industry. The firm upgraded the Macau industry to neutral and said they cut their expected gross revenue decline from a 13% loss to a 6% decline.
- Finally, here is your stock pick of the day. Shares of one of our favorite e-commerce stocks have risen sharply as markets rebounded from early 2016 dips. Over the last four weeks, this stock is up 12%. But there is plenty more to go… The reason? This company has tapped into the world's emerging powerhouse economy, and its continued investment and expansion around the globe will make it one of the top blue-chip companies in the decades ahead. Read all about it, right here.
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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.