Dow Jones Industrial Average Today Flat After FOMC Meeting Minutes Released

Dow Jones Industrial Average

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is looking to get back on track after a tepid day of trading on Wednesday.

Markets hit an all-time high on Monday, but they have hit a dull stretch in recent sessions as investors eyed an important update on the timing of interest rates and a slew of earnings reports.

This morning, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) topped Wall Street quarterly expectations and said that domestic store sales increased for the eighth straight quarter. Shares of WMT stock pushed up more than 3% this morning, offering support to the Dow.

Yesterday, the Dow saw modest gains after the report from the U.S. central bank indicated that policymakers believe a rate hike may be needed soon.

Editor's Note: Here's what you need to know from the release of minutes from the Fed's July FOMC meeting.

Thursday will be a busy day for the markets, particularly with earnings reports and traders turning their attention to global oil prices.

Don't be surprised if most talking heads focus on just the Federal Reserve today. While they're busy speculating on what we already know - that the U.S. central bank has lost its way - we're presenting readers with a number of different profit opportunities that have emerged this week.

Yesterday's Stock Market Numbers:

Dow Jones: 18,567.05; 15.03; +0.08%                                  

S&P 500: 2,182.22; 4.07; +0.19%     

Nasdaq: 5,228.66; 1.55; +0.03%

Now let's look at the most important market events and stocks to watch today, plus your economic calendar, for Aug. 18, 2016.

What's Ahead for the Dow Jones Industrial Average Today

The Dow Jones Industrial Average projects a 16-point decline at the opening bell as traders remain mixed on the message the Federal Reserve has sent about the timing of another rate hike. The central bank has teased another hike since December. However, it has only voted for one rate increase since ending the third round of its massive quantitative easing program.

Oil prices are back near six-week highs as investors speculate over rumors about a potential production freeze among some of the world's largest crude suppliers. For two weeks, members of OPEC and Russia have hinted that nations will work together during a meeting in September and freeze production to ensure a higher price for crude. While that seems wonderful in theory, Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors explains why the deal won't happen.

This morning, WTI prices added 0.5% as traders also reacted to news that ship orders have increased to send U.S. oil to Europe as part of an arbitrage opportunity. Meanwhile, Brent crude prices slipped 0.2%.

Gold prices are back in focus after the Fed released its minutes. Since Money Morning Global Credit Strategist Michael Lewitt recommended that readers consider investing in the precious metal in November 2015, the yellow metal's price has appreciated by 24%. And we argue there is still plenty of room for gold prices to run.

Stocks to Watch Today, Aug. 18, 2016

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  • Shares of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) fell more than 1.4% in pre-market hours after the company reported earnings after the bell on Wednesday. Though the company topped earnings and revenue expectations, the markets are reacting negatively to a large round of layoffs at the tech firm. Cisco announced plans to slash around 5,500 positions with the company, which is roughly 7% of its employees.
  • Shares of Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) were off more than 2.3% after the micro-blogging giant received a downgrade from research firm Evercore. The analysts issued a "Sell" rating due to rising competitive concerns. Evercore cited Snapchat's recent shift toward monetizing its own service. TWTR stock has long been a short target of Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald. And while many Wall Street traders are speculating that TWTR is a ripe takeover target, Fitz-Gerald advises that investors proceed with caution on such speculation. Here's his latest TWTR insight.
  • Today, keep an eye on shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA). Shares continue to hover near 52-week highs as the firm's core commerce growth continues to propel its performance. With shares sitting around $97 each, we argue that BABA stock is an absolute bargain.
  • Other companies set to report earnings today include Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), Ross Stores Inc. (Nasdaq: ROST), Applied Materials Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT), Hormel Foods Corp. (NYSE: HRL), and MSG Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: MSGN).

Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)

  • Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.
  • Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey at 8:30 a.m.
  • Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m.
  • New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley speaks at 10 a.m.
  • Leading Indicators at 10 a.m.
  • EIA Natural Gas Report at 10:30 a.m.
  • 3-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
  • 6-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
  • 2-Year FRN Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
  • 2-Year Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
  • 5-Year Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
  • 7-Year Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
  • 5-Year TIPS Auction at 1 p.m.
  • San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams speaks at 4 p.m.
  • Fed Balance Sheet at 4:30 p.m.
  • Money Supply at 4:30 p.m.

Up Next: One Billion Reasons Why This Company Is Good for Another 100% Profit

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About the Author

Garrett Baldwin is a globally recognized research economist, financial writer, consultant, and political risk analyst with decades of trading experience and degrees in economics, cybersecurity, and business from Johns Hopkins, Purdue, Indiana University, and Northwestern.

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