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The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 13 points but ended its five-week winning streak with an eerily calm trading day highlighted by mixed economic data and increased expectations for an interest rate hike by in April.
Although there's speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve is holding interest rates low to benefit the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton, one of the Fed's most outspoken members suggested the U.S. economy was healthy enough for higher rates. St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard turned heads this morning by joining a chorus of his compatriots to suggest the Fed would raise rates at least two times this year. However, it wouldn't be the first time the Fed hinted toward one thing then did the complete opposite.
Here's what you need to know about the markets on Thursday, March 24, 2016.
First up, check out the results for the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 17,515.73; +13.14; +0.08%
S&P 500: 2,035.94; -0.77; -0.04%
Nasdaq: 4,773.51; +4.64; +0.10%
Now, here's the top stock market news today…
DJIA Today: Activist Targets Yahoo, FTC's Phony Games, and Oil's Decline
A federal judge said he's concerned about allegations that the Federal Trade Commission attempted to manipulate testimony in order to halt a deal between Office Depot Inc. (Nasdaq: ODP) and Staples Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS). Shares of both companies were up today after the judge spoke out on accusations that the FTC attempted to alter Amazon.com Inc.'s (Nasdaq: AMZN) testimony on the possible deal. SPLS stock added 7%, while ODP shares gained 9%.
Oil prices fell today and logged their first weekly loss in over a month after the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced a massive rise in crude inventories. The EIA said domestic crude stocks increased by 9.4 million barrels. Total inventory now sits at a record 532.5 million barrels. WTI prices were off 0.8% to $39.46, while Brent crude oil was off 0.1% to $40.44. Shares of Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) added 1.4% on the day.
On the economic front, the jobs market continued its tightening last week. The U.S. Labor Department said weekly jobless claims increased for the week ending March 19 by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000. However, the federal government revised data dating all the way back to 2011 and found that claims remain lower than previous reports. Just three weeks ago, weekly claims fell to their lowest level since November 1973.
But the big talk today was that activist hedge fund Starboard Value is pushing to remove the entire board of directors at Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO). Starboard announced it's preparing to nominate nine directors to the company's board, as the hedge fund remains discontent with the turnaround effort under CEO Marissa Mayer. This would be the largest company to ever have its full board of directors replaced by an activist investor. However, after evaluating the letter to the company, the threat appears to be little more than additional pressure to force Yahoo to conduct a deal to sell its core Internet business and to boost shareholder value.
Now, let's look at the day's biggest stock movers and today's must-own stock…
Top Stock Market News Today
- Shares of Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) are in still in focus on news the company is in discussions with private-equity giant KKR & Co. LP (NYSE: KKR) to sell a stake in its China unit. The company is looking to sell about 20% of its Chinese business, which is valued at roughly $10 billion and accounts for roughly 50% of the company's total sales. YUM will spin off its Yum China business by the end of the year and list it on the New York Stock Exchange.
- On the earnings front, shares of Accenture Plc. (NYSE: ACN) rallied after the company beat Wall Street earnings expectations and boosted its annual revenue forecast. The firm cited strong demand and growth in its North American consulting business. ACN shares gained 6.2% on the day.
- Meanwhile, shares of GameStop Corp. (NYSE: GME) were off marginally after the video-game retailer fell short of Wall Street's earnings expectations. Analysts expected the company to report earnings per share (EPS) of $0.59 and sales of $2.14 billion. However, GameStop reported $0.54 on $2.02 billion in sales. With this earnings miss, many want to know if now is the time to buy GME stock on weakness… here's your answer.
- Shares of Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN) tumbled 0.8% on news that the U.S. defense contractor was hiking its annual dividend by 9.3%.
- Finally, here is your stock pick of the day. Although oil prices are up more than 19% over the last month, they are still lagging far behind the 52-week high by nearly 40%. With the deal among 73% of global producers on the rocks, prolonged $40 oil is looking like a serious possibility in the future. But there's one refinery stock poised to outperform its energy peers due to its significant competitive advantages. This company is a must-own stock and is a favorite of Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald. To read all about this stock, click here now.
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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.