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Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average today are in the black for 2016, as global stimulus efforts around the globe continue to drop money from helicopters in order to boost economic growth.
The S&P 500 has surged more than 9% since Feb. 9, fueled by the slump in the U.S. dollar as the Fed continues to hold steady on interest rates.
With a short trading week ahead of the Easter holiday, trading volume is expected to be light. On Friday, the final reading on Q4 gross domestic product will be released. Economists anticipate that GDP will come in around 1%, a rather tepid figure. But it's not really a surprise when your top exports are television shows about rich, unemployed people sitting around drinking wine all day, or hour-long dance contests.
And here's the top stock market news, stocks to watch, and economic calendar for March 21, 2016.
What's Moving the Dow Jones Industrial Average Today: Oil Prices Slipping
Here's a breakdown of why the Dow is rising this morning.
- First, here's your economic update and jolt of reality. Central banks around the world are boosting stimulus efforts in a desperate effort to spur economic growth. However, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced last week that it will hold steady on current rates and reduced the number of rate hikes it expects this year from four to two. Though the economy is stronger than last year (bolstered by the services sector), this announcement was a bit of a downgrade by the Fed from its previous statement in January. Inflation is on the rise, and the Federal Open Market Committee was divided on how to handle interest rates this month. Today, three speeches from members of the Fed will be in focus as investors attempt to make sense of what the Fed is planning for the months ahead.
- Oil prices were mixed this morning as expectations for the April OPEC production freeze meeting remain uncertain. Fifteen nations, representing 73% of global supply, claim they will meet next month to discuss colluding on production output in order to support prices toward $50 per barrel. However, Iran refuses to cooperate until it ramps up production to four million barrels per day, and the higher prices will tempt U.S. shale producers back into the market. WTI prices are back below $40 per barrel, while Brent crude added 0.17% so far this morning.
Oil prices have gone through one of the worst oil crashes in modern history. But, you can find our shocking prediction of where the price of oil is heading in this video…
- Another day, another merger. U.S. paint manufacturer Sherwin-Williams Co. (NYSE: SHW) announced plans to purchase rival Valspar Corp. (NYSE: VAL) in an all-cash deal worth $8.9 billion. The purchase price of $113 per share is a 41% premium over Friday's closing price.
- President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba to meet with the nation's President Raul Castro. This is the first trip by a U.S. president to Cuba since 1928. There were incidents because of President Obama's visit, however, as the Cuban government arrested dozens of human rights protestors.
- On the IPO front, Corvus Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: CRVS) is hoping to raise $75 million this week, far below its original target of $115 million. The biotech company is engaged in the development of immune checkpoint inhibitors, which is a competitive focus by many other biotech and pharmaceutical giants.
- On the economic front, keep an eye out for the existing home sales report from the National Association of Realtors. The housing sector has been a bit disappointing so far in 2016, with sales relatively flat. February sales are expected to have declined by 2.2%.
Now here's your list of top stocks to watch in today's market, plus today's economic calendar:
Companies to Watch in the Stock Market Today
- Keep an eye on Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) today. The tech giant is slated to unveil the latest edition of its iPhone, a new iPad, and a variety of bands for the Apple Watch.
- Shares of General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS) are in focus this week, and it's not just because the firm will report quarterly earnings on Wednesday. The cereal maker announced on Friday that it will soon begin to label any products that contain genetically modified ingredients nationwide. The announcement comes after a new Vermont law required such disclosures. This could be the start of a broader trend by other food companies to disclose GMO ingredients, something they have been battling on the national scale for years.
- Shares of Tribune Media Co. (NYSE: TRIB) were trending downward after a California judge halted the owner of the Los Angeles Times from purchasing publisher Freedom Communications. The U.S. government sued to prevent the deal, arguing that the acquisition would establish a newspaper monopoly in southern California that could spur higher subscription costs and increase advertising rates.
- IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS) announced a strong earnings report and beat Wall Street EPS expectations by a nickel. But the bigger news was that the business analytics company will combine with financial market information firm Markit Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRKT) in a merger of equals worth roughly $13 billion. According to terms of the deal, IHS shareholders will own 57% of the new company. Current Markit shareholders will own the balance of the firm.
- On the earnings side, pay attention to quarterly performance reports from Mattress Firm Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: MFRM) and YY Inc. (NYSE: YY). On the international front, look for an earnings report and annual report from Brazilian energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA (NYSE ADR: PBR).
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Lacker speaks at 2:45 a.m.
- Chicago Fed National Activity Index at 8:30 a.m.
- Existing Home Sales at 10 a.m.
- 4-Week Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 3-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- 6-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart speaks at 12:30 p.m.
- Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard speaks at 8:30 p.m.
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