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Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down today (Wednesday) as traders gauge the date of the next interest rate hike. Last week's incoherent mess of a press conference from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen provided little help. Already, four of 17 FOMC members have publicly disagreed with Yellen's dovish statement since the Fed's announcement on interest rates last week. It's just more evidence that the Fed's leadership appears lost and continues to operate monetary policy in the United States.
And here's the top stock market news, stocks to watch, and economic calendar for March 23, 2016.
What's Moving the Dow Jones Industrial Average Today: U.S. Housing Numbers
Dow futures were down 50 points this morning as investors hope to turn away from events in Brussels and focus on a wealth of earnings reports and home sales data during today's trading session. Volumes are expected to remain low ahead of the Easter holiday and closure of the markets on Friday.
Here's a breakdown of why the Dow is down this morning:
- First up, European markets were resilient this morning in the wake of the Brussels terror attacks. Markets cheered an announcement by Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE ADR: CS) that the Zurich-based lender will cut back on its trading operations. The move will increase cost costs, job cuts, and asset cuts as the firm attempts to revamp and streamline the bank. The firm will boost its cost-cutting by $821 million and slash 2,000 jobs in 2016.
- It looks like some members of the Federal Reserve are now publicly revolting against the Fed's decision to hold rates steady in February and Janet Yellen's release of a dovish statement last Wednesday. The latest Fed official to offer a different take was Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker. Overnight, Harker argued that the Fed should consider a rate hike in April, citing improved economic figures in the United States.
- Oil prices slipped on news that U.S. inventories were on the rise again last week. According to the American Petroleum Institute (API), domestic inventory levels increased by 8.8 million barrels last week. That estimate is more than three times more than what a survey of economists anticipated earlier this week. Later today, look for the official U.S. government report on crude stocks from the Energy Information Administration.
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…
- The boost in supply has traders concerned about the ongoing global glut.
- On the global front, the head of the International Energy Agency's oil and market division called the possible meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers "meaningless." Neil Atkinson said that only Saudi Arabia has the capacity to increase its production, and a freeze offers little hope given that both Libya and Iran have dismissed a possible deal. Brent crude prices fell 0.4%.
- On the economic front, the housing market will be in focus at a time that existing home sales are slumping significantly, raising questions about the health of the housing sector as well as supply and consumer credit access. Today, pay attention to an update on mortgage applications from the Mortgage Bankers Association and the February new home sales report. Economists anticipate that new home sales increased by 3.2% last month.
- In a troubling study by GOBankingRates, one in three people have not saved for retirement. In a survey of 1,500 people, half have put away less than $10,000.
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
- Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL) – the parent company of Google – announced that its cloud-computing division won a major new client: Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD). The nation's largest home retailer will begin shifting some data to Google's cloud servers in the near future. The deal is a coup for Google as it continues to gain legitimacy with clients outside of the tech sector. The firm already counts Snapchat and AirBnB as major tech-sector clients.
- Shares of Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) cratered nearly 5% in pre-market hours after the footwear and apparel maker missed quarterly revenue expectations. The firm, however, beat top-line estimates by $0.03 and has registered a 16.1% gain in future orders. Even so, investors anticipated a 17% gain in future orders.
- Shares of AutoZone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) were off marginally despite news that the auto parts retailer is boosting its share buyback program by $750 million.
- On the earnings side, pay attention to quarterly performance reports from General Mills Inc. (NYSE: GIS), KB Home (NYSE: KBH), PVH Corp. (NYSE: PVH), Oxford Industries Inc. (NYSE: OXM), and Worthington Industries Inc. (NYSE: WOR).
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- MBA Mortgage Applications at 7 a.m.
- New Home Sales at 10 a.m.
- EIA Petroleum Status Report at 10:30 a.m.
- 2-Year FRN Note Auction at 11:30 a.m.
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