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The stock market news today is the Dow ticking higher in pre-market hours after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made a big prediction about tax reform.
Last week, 244,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits, a figure that was slightly higher than consensus expectations of 241,000. Markets were also moving higher after the U.S. Labor Department announced that weekly jobless claims fell in line with economist expectations.
On Tuesday, the Dow pushed higher despite concerns about a possible interest rate hike and falling oil prices.
Let's look at the numbers from Wednesday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 20,775.60; +32.60; +0.16%
S&P 500: 2,362.82; -2.56; -0.11%
Nasdaq: 5,860.63; -5.32; -0.09%
Here's a look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus a look at Thursday's economic calendar.
What's Ahead for the Dow Jones Industrial Average Today
The Dow Jones Industrial Average projected a 30-point gain as investors prepare for a busy day of earnings reports and weigh statements from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. According to reports, Mnuchin said that the Trump administration is prepared to push through a "very significant" level of tax reform by August of this year.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released minutes from its most recent meeting on monetary policy. The central bank projects another interest-rate increase is poised to happen "fairly soon." Despite the optimism for higher interest rates, policymakers did not show any sense of urgency given that inflation still remains below its target rate of 2%. According to CME Group's FedWatch tool, the odds of a rate hike in March are just 22%. However, the markets have set a probability for a May rate hike at 52%.
Crude oil prices were pushing higher in pre-market hours on news that U.S. crude inventory levels fell last week. According to the American Petroleum Institute, U.S. crude stocks fell by 884,000 barrels last week, a figure far below the expected increase of 3.5 million barrels. Traders are eyeing today's official report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The surprising news comes at a time that OPEC is working to surpass its agreement among member nations and Russia to reduce global output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd). According to various sources, the global oil cartel has reached a compliance level of 90% and could work to surpass that level in the coming months.
The WTI crude oil price today added 1.7%. Brent crude gained nearly 1.5%.
But the big news is the the Saudi Aramco IPO.
On Wednesday, we learned that the Saudi Aramco IPO underwriters will be JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), and HSBC Holdings Plc. (NYSE ADR: HSBC). This is poised to be the largest IPO in the history of the markets.
Given the news, investors need to prepare. That's why we've put together this guide on the IPO, its underwriters, and more.
Stocks to Watch Today, Feb. 23, 2017:
- In earnings news, shares of Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA) fell more than 2.3% after the auto company reported a wider than expected loss for the quarter. Despite the earnings decline, the firm easily topped revenue expectations and said that it would hit its production goals for the Model 3 sedan by September.
- Meanwhile, shares of Fitbit Inc. (NYSE: FIT) were off more than 1.3% after the company fell short of earnings expectations after the bell Wednesday. The firm reported its first quarterly loss since going public in 2015. Overall, Fitbit's quarterly earnings per share came in at a loss of $0.56. That was a wider than expected loss by $0.06.
- Shares of retail giant Kohl's Corp. (NYSE: KSS) added nearly 3% after the company topped Wall Street earnings expectations. The company reported earnings per share of $1.44, a figure that topped consensus estimates by roughly $0.11. The uptick could have been higher, but Kohl's projected a weaker than expected annual forecast in which it projected that same-store sales would be – at best – flat for the year.
- Keep an eye out for earnings reports from Baidu Inc. (Nasdaq: BIDU), Splunk Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLK), Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN), Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF), Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU), Brocade Communications (Nasdaq: BRCD), Stamps.com Inc. (Nasdaq: STMP), Hormel Foods Corp. (NYSE: HML), SeaDrill Ltd. (Nasdaq: SDRL), Kohl's Corp. (NYSE: KSS), IMAX Corp. (NYSE: IMAX), Denbury Resources Inc. (NYSE: DNR), and Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp. (NYSE: VAC).
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.
- Chicago Fed National Activity Index at 8:30 a.m.
- Atlanta Federal Reserve Chair Dennis Lockhart Speaks at 8:35 a.m.
- FHFA House Price Index at 9 a.m.
- Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m.
- EIA Natural Gas Report at 10:30 a.m.
- Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index at 11 a.m.
- EIA Petroleum Status Report at 11 a.m.
- Three-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Six-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 52-Week Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Seven-Year Note 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.