The Dow Jones news today focuses on another triple-digit gain after new economic data helped propel stocks higher.
Financial stocks led the way on increasing optimism about President Donald Trump's economic agenda and increased expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will proceed with interest rate hikes in the year ahead.
Technology giant Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) hit a new high on news that Warren Buffett's investment firm almost quadrupled its stake in the iPhone manufacturer. According to a regulatory filing, Buffett's firm increased its total stake to 57.4 million shares last quarter.
Let's look at the numbers from Wednesday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 20,611.86; +107.45; +0.52%
S&P 500: 2,349.25; +11.67; +0.50%
Nasdaq: 5,819.44; +36.87; +0.64%
Now, here's a look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus a preview of Thursday's economic calendar.
DJIA Today: Dow Rallies as Fed Projects Additional Rate Hikes in 2017
The Dow Jones posted a 107-point gain Wednesday.
Shares of Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) offered the biggest boost to the Dow after activist investor Nelson Peltz announced a $3.5 billion stake in the firm. This is the third-largest stake that Peltz's Trian Fund Management has ever taken in a company. Wall Street expects that Peltz will take an active role in helping the company divest its unprofitable brands and attempt to bolster its sales.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen appeared before the House and defended the central bank's role in helping the economy recover in the wake of the Great Recession. The Janet Yellen speech today was important because Yellen acknowledged that the U.S. economy remains weak. However, she defended the Federal Reserve's policies and said that they have done more to help the U.S. economy than hinder it.
"The economy has recovered more quickly, for example, than … European Union economies have in the aftermath of the crisis," Yellen said during her statement before Congress. "The Federal Reserve has put in place highly accommodative monetary policies meant to spur spending in the economy and restore low unemployment or to achieve the goal of maximizing employment and price stability as assigned to us by Congress."
It wasn't just Apple that received a Buffett bump Wednesday. Airline stocks were on the rise on word that Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A) had boosted its stake in the industry.
President Donald Trump welcomed the chief executives of Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY), and six other major domestic retailers. During the meeting at the White House, Trump and the executives discussed corporate tax reform, infrastructure spending, and Trump's plan for a cross-border tax on foreign-made products. According to CNBC, retail executives were highly critical of the border tax proposal and said that such a fiscal policy plan was both "risky and unproven."
Crude oil prices were falling in afternoon trading after the Energy Information Administration announced a record build in U.S. crude inventories last week. The government agency reported that domestic crude stocks increased by 9.5 million barrels last week. That figure far outpaced analyst expectations by nearly three times the consensus forecast. The news was enough to offset increased optimism that OPEC members and Russia are on pace to reach their production cut targets in the months ahead.
The WTI crude oil price today fell 0.2%. Brent crude dipped nearly 0.4%.
While everyone seemed to focus on Janet Yellen's testimony, another big story that was sliding under the radar was happening in Congress.
During a House Ways and Means Committee meeting Tuesday, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) pushed on with his pressure to have President Trump's tax returns released. In fact, it appears that a war is set to take place on Capitol Hill as Pascrell is demanding at least 10 years of Donald Trump's tax returns.
Stock Market News and Top Stocks to Watch Today: Feb. 15, 2017
- Shares of Groupon Inc. (Nasdaq: GRPN) rallied more than 21% after the company easily topped Wall Street expectations for the fourth quarter. But there's another big reason why Groupon stock is rallying. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) announced it has taken a 5.7% stake in the online discount retailer. GRPN stock now up 38.7% year to date.
- In deal news, shares of Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) added another 1.5% and touched an intraday 52-week high on news that the company is approaching a revised deal to sell its core assets to Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). Bloomberg reports the new deal is expected to cut roughly $250 million to $300 million from the original agreement.
- After the bell, look for additional earnings reports from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), TripAdvisor Inc. (Nasdaq: TRIP), Marriott International Inc. (Nasdaq: MAR), Applied Materials Inc.(Nasdaq: AMAT), NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS), and Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO).
Thursday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- Housing Starts at 8:30 a.m.
- 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.
- EIA Natural Gas Report at 10:30 a.m.
- Four-Week Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Three-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Six-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Two-Year FRN Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Two-Year Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Five-Year Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Seven-Year Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 30-Year TIPS Auction at 1 p.m.
- Fed Balance Sheet at 4:30 p.m.
- Money Supply at 4:30 p.m.
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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.