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Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were projecting a 101-point gain today (Wednesday) as investors continue to digest statements by US. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. The U.S. central bank isn't fully committed to raising interest rates next month, and members of the FOMC continue to send mixed messages on monetary policy.
And here's the top stock market news, stocks to watch, and economic calendar for March 30, 2016.
What's Moving the Dow Jones Industrial Average Today: The Federal Reserve
Yesterday, Yellen admitted ongoing pressures around the world could weigh on the U.S. economy and didn't offer a timetable on when we can expect additional hikes to interest rates. The U.S. economy doesn't face any pronounced short-term domestic threats, but Yellen said such an assessment can be affected by "considerable uncertainty."
The next FOMC statement is slated for April 27. According to CME FedWatch, there is a 5% chance that the central bank hikes rates in April.
Here's a breakdown of why the Dow Jones is moving upward this morning.
- First up, mergers are all the rage again on Wednesday. Shares of Premier Foods (OTCMKTS: PRRFY) are on the rise after the company received a stronger offer from spice and flavorings maker McCormick & Co. (NYSE: MKC). The Maryland-based spice giant hiked its offer for the British firm to roughly 537 million pounds ($773 million).
- Meanwhile, financial services giant State Street Corp. (NYSE: SST) announced plans to purchase GE Asset Management from General Electric for about $485 million. Finally, Foxconn Technology announced plans to purchase Japanese screen-maker Sharp Corp. (OTCMKTS ADR: SHCAY) for $3.5 billion.
- Oil prices are on the rise as traders anticipate a smaller than expected build in domestic crude inventory levels. Later today, the U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly update on U.S. crude supplies. Investors have been selling on the recent price rally that has seen crude prices tick up more than 45% since mid-February. OPEC and a handful of major global suppliers are set to meet in Doha, Qatar, on April 17 to discuss a production freeze in order to offer price support to global energy commodities. However, Iran is unlikely to take part in the deal, and that has traders fleeing.
- On the economic front, pay attention to the ADP employment report. The update to private sector jobs is a strong proxy for Friday's upcoming March unemployment report, which could generate more chatter about the timing of the next interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. Initial reports indicate that the U.S. economy added 200,000 jobs in March.
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
- Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (NYSE: VRX) were up more than 4.5% after the Canadian drugmaker said that it does not anticipate any additional problems affecting its financial statements. The firm is also seeking additional time to file its annual report. The stock has fallen more than 70% over the last year and remains a firm that we highly recommend that you avoid in 2016.
- This morning, shares of Lululemon Inc. (Nasdaq: LULU) were up nearly 3% after the Canadian yoga-wear retailer beat quarterly profit expectations. But the company's annual forecast outlook was slightly below expectations. Lululemon projected a profit forecast of $2.05 to $2.15 per share, below the consensus expectation of $2.15.
- Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) added more than 1% after the firm received a stock upgrade from investment firm Cowen Group to "Outperform."
- Shares of international airplane manufacturer Boeing Inc. (NYSE: BA) were on the rise this morning despite news that the firm plans to slash 4,000 jobs by the middle of the year. The job cuts are part of a broader cost-cutting initiative.
- On the earnings front, look for quarterly reports from Micron Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MU), Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL), Paychex Inc. (Nasdaq: PAYX), and UniFirst Corp. (NYSE: UNF).
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- MBA Mortgage Applications at 7 a.m.
- ADP Employment Report at 8:15 a.m.
- EIA Petroleum Status Report at 10:30 a.m.
- Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans speaks at 1 p.m.
- 7-Year Note Auction at 1 p.m.
- Farm Prices at 3 p.m.
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