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Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average forecast a 38-point gain ahead of today's consumer economic data and tomorrow's speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
The markets are waiting to hear again from Yellen on the health of the economy and the central bank's plans for interest rates in April. While global markets are sliding due to rising concerns about economic growth, domestic indices remain locked on the Fed's every word.
As Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald pointed out recently, the central bank has been the largest driver of the markets' moves over the last eight years.
And here's the top stock market news, stocks to watch, and economic calendar for March 28, 2016.
What's Moving the Dow Jones Industrial Average Today: Janet Yellen
Investors will be dissecting nearly every word of Yellen's speech as they seek clues about whether the central bank will increase rates during the meeting of the Fed Open Market Committee next week.
Here's a breakdown of what's moving the Dow and the global markets this morning.
- First up, blame the world. That's become the philosophy of the Federal Reserve over why the central bank cannot normalize interest rates as quickly as it wants. San Francisco Fed President John Williams told CNBC that very same argument about monetary policy, as the bank continues to monitor Europe's wide descent into negative interest rates, China continues to debase its own currency, and Japan remains locked in a quagmire of slow growth and never-ending stimulus.
- Oil prices ticked higher as global energy producers locked in April 17 as the date for a meeting in the Qatari capital Doha to discuss a potential freeze on oil output. Ten nations have confirmed that they will attend the meeting. Libya, the country with the highest break-even oil price in the world, will not be present. However, the biggest speculation centers on whether Iran will take part in the meetings. Previously, the country has said it will not take part in the plan until it increases its daily shipments to at least four million barrels.
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…
- On the economic front, we're looking at the strength of "core" personal consumption (PCE) spending. An increase will likely boost the odds that the Federal Reserve would consider an interest rate hike in April.
- On Friday, the Dow was closed in observance of Good Friday. On Thursday, the markets ended a five-week winning streak as traders remained concerned about a crude oil supply glut and international security in the wake of the Brussels terrorist attacks.
Now here's your list of the top stocks to watch in today's market, plus today's economic calendar:
Companies to Watch in the Stock Market Today
- Over the weekend, rumors circulated that Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is chatting with private equity firms about supporting the financing needed to take over Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO). The talks are preliminary as Yahoo considers the sales of its core businesses.
- Shares of Qlik Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: QLIK) surged more than 7.8% on news that the company is exploring "strategic alternatives," which include the possibility of a sale. The announcement comes as the firm faces increased pressure from activist hedge fund Elliott Management, which owns an 8.8% stake in the firm.
- In merger and acquisition news, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. (NYSE ADR: NTT) plans to purchase the IT services division of Dell Inc. for a whopping $3.5 billion. That deal is actually happening at a loss for Dell, which bought the IT unit for $3.9 billion in 2009. Dell plans to use the money to complete its massive merger with EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) – a deal that will force Dell to take on roughly $43 billion in debt.
- Shares of Avon Products Inc. (NYSE: AVP) were on the move this morning on news that the company has appointed former FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) executive Cathy Ross to its board of directors. The announcement is part of a wider deal to help it avoid a proxy battle this year with activist investors.
- On the earnings front, look for quarterly reports from Cal-Maine Foods Inc. (Nasdaq: CALM), Netlist Inc. (Nasdaq: NLST), Pacific Sunwear Of California Inc. (Nasdaq: PSUN), and SYNNEX Corp. (NYSE: SNX).
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- International Trade in Goods at 8:30 a.m.
- Personal Income and Outlays at 8:30 a.m.
- Pending Home Sales Index at 10:00 a.m.
- Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey at 10:30 a.m.
- 4-Week Bill Announcement at 11:00 a.m.
- 3-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- 6-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- 2-Year Note Auction at 1:00 p.m.
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