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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell on Thursday as traders prepared for the Christmas holiday and consumer stocks dragged down the markets. Any hopes of the Dow hitting 20,000 before next week have likely been dashed. Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) were the biggest drag on the index and fell roughly 2.5%.
The Nasdaq was pulled down by a shaky performance in the technology sector. Shares of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) dipped nearly 1% after the company was named the defendant in several patent infringement lawsuits filed by hardware rival Nokia. Meanwhile, shares of Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) fell more than 0.4%.
Despite the downturn, it was a positive day for economic data in the United States. The nation saw an uptick in new capital goods orders, while third-quarter GDP was revised upward to 3.5%. The third-quarter figure represents the fastest quarterly growth in roughly two years and sets the tone for increased optimism for the U.S. economy heading into 2017.
Let's look at the numbers from Thursday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 19,918.88; -23.08; -0.12%
S&P 500: 2,260.96; -4.22; -0.19%
Nasdaq: 5,447.42; -24.01; -0.44%
Now, here's a look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus a preview of Friday's economic calendar.
DJIA Today: Dow Slides Despite Q3 GDP Bump; China Trade Deals in Focus
The Dow Jones slipped 23 points on Thursday as consumer stocks dipped thanks to a round of lackluster earnings reports. Markets were slightly rattled today after President-elect Donald Trump announced that he has nominated Peter Navarro to head the White House National Trade Council. Navarro is a professor of economics and public policy in the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. He is also an outspoken critic of China's trade policies and author of a book on the country's impact on the U.S. economy called "Death by China."
The decision is seen as an effort by Trump to double-down on the hard talk about China's currency devaluation, its growing trade balance against the United States, and its shaky trade relationship with the country. Some are worried that Trump's policies – which include proposals for tariffs on Chinese goods — could spark a trade war between the world's two largest economies.
Crude oil prices were ticking higher despite a report on Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration stating that U.S. crude inventories increased last week. The WTI crude oil price today added 0.3%, while Brent crude added 0.7%.
The combination of positive economic data and increased optimism that OPEC members will honor their production deal pushed crude higher. Money Morning Global Energy Strategist Dr. Kent Moors argues that powerful forces are manipulating the global oil markets. And he's identified one company that is poised to profit from this ongoing conspiracy.
But the big story today is what is happening in the mainstream financial media.
Right now, all the major news sites are compiling their annual forecasts for 2017. But we've discovered something very disturbing about stories like the one in Barron's that offers 2017 stock market forecasts. You see, in too many cases, these predictions are no better than throwing a dart at a dartboard with a blindfold. Even worse, when they're wrong, there is little accountability to the people who took this so-called "expert" advice from Wall Street sell-side analysts.
We've put together a report on the futility of sell-side forecasts on Wall Street and made a shocking discovery. More important, Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald has devised a strategy to help you cut through all the noise and profit in 2017.
Top Stock Market News Today, Dec. 22, 2016
- Shares of Weight Watchers International Inc. (NYSE: WTW) added more than 11% after Oprah Winfrey announced a new campaign about the 40 pounds of weight she lost since starting her dietary program. Winfrey is a board member of the company and owns roughly 10% of the enterprise. It's a big pop for the stock, which is still off more than 50% from its 52-week high.
- In deal news, it looks like McDonald's Corp. (NYSE: MCD) is set to finalize its departure from the Chinese and Hong Kong markets by selling its stores to a private-equity group led by Citigroup. The deal is expected to return roughly $3 billion.
- In earnings news, shares of ConAgra Foods Inc. (NYSE: CAG) added nearly 3% after the company topped Wall Street profit expectations. Meanwhile, shares of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBY) cratered nearly 10% after the firm's third-quarter earnings report fell well below Wall Street's expectations. The company was among the top three stocks to watch today, including Micron Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MU) and Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD). Here's more on today's top stocks to watch.
- After the bell, look for additional reports from Cal-Maine Foods Inc. (Nasdaq: CALM) and Cintas Corp. (Nasdaq: CTAS).
Friday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- New Home Sales at 10 a.m.
- Consumer Sentiment at 10 a.m.
- Baker Hughes Rig Count at 1 p.m.
- Bond Market Close: 2 p.m.
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