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The Dow Jones futures projected a 24-point decline after the European Central Bank elected to leave interest rates unchanged and crude oil prices continued their sharp decline due to fears about increasing supply levels. Global markets were also falling Wednesday.
The downturn occurred even though the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits again fell last week. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the number of Americans seeking jobless benefits remained below 300,000 for the 105th consecutive week. In addition, the bull market officially turned eight years old. In the last eight years, the Dow Jones has added more than 14,000 points and the S&P 500 has roughly tripled.
On Wednesday, the Dow fell 69.03 points thanks to a big drop in oil prices.
Let's look at the numbers from Wednesday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 20,855.73; -69.03; -0.33%
S&P 500: 2,362.98; -5.41; -0.23%
Nasdaq: 5,837.55; +3.62; +0.06%
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 downturn after the ECB's rate hike decision. ECB President Mario Draghi said that the central bank would also consider expanding its quantitative easing program should the economic bloc's financial situation worsen in the months ahead.
Investors continue to eye U.S. economic data just ahead of tomorrow's important February jobs report. Last Friday, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the only potential roadblock to a rate hike this month would be a weak February jobs report. CME's FedWatch Tool puts the probability of a rate hike at 90.8% for March.
What would a rate hike mean for your money?
We break down the impact of a March interest rate hike, right here.
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Shares of Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) were off 1.1% in pre-market hours. The stock has experienced a volatile start to its trading on public markets. Yesterday, SNAP stock added 6.3% after reports indicated that short-selling interest in the social media company had waned. While investors may be eyeing the stock, Money Morning has discovered another way to profit from Snapchat without ever having to own shares. Here's our latest profit opportunity on SNAP stock.
But the big news today is the sharp downturn in crude oil prices.
On Wednesday, the Energy Information Administration announced that U.S. crude inventory levels hit a new all-time record. After the announcement, crude prices plunged more than 5% and raised new concerns about a global oversupply of the commodity. Crude prices slumped below $50 per barrel after the United States reported that domestic inventory levels surged to 528.4 million barrels after a gain of 8.2 million barrels in a week.
This news came the same week that traders raised new concerns about the stability of OPEC's agreement to cap excessive crude production. During an energy conference in Houston this week, Saudi Arabia's energy minister made statements that raised eyebrows about his nation's commitment to the cartel's production deal.
This morning, the WTI crude oil price today dipped 2.2%. Brent crude slid 2.0%.
Stocks to Watch Today, March 9, 2017:
- In earnings news, Staples Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS) reported fourth-quarter earnings before the bell. The company fell short of both earnings and profit estimates. Staples also reported that same-store sales were off 1%. Shares declined nearly 3% in pre-market hours. The company is expected to report a quarterly decline in sales due to ongoing competition from Big Box retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).
- Meanwhile, shares of Sears Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD) popped more than 5.6% in pre-market hours after the firm reported a smaller than expected loss in quarterly earnings. Wall Street was expecting a huge earnings per share (EPS) loss of $2.85. The firm reported a quarterly profit loss of $1.28 per share. Last week, Money Morning Capital Wave Strategist Shah Gilani appeared on FOX Business Network's "Varney & Co." and explained that Sears was a great company to trade in today's volatile environment for retailers. In fact, Shah has just offered his latest insights on the future of retail in his Wall Street Insights & Indictments. Be sure to check out his latest research, right here.
- Keep an eye out for earnings reports from Ulta Beauty Inc. (Nasdaq: ULTA), VeriFone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY), Stratasys Inc. (Nasdaq: SSYS), Zumiez Inc. (Nasdaq: ZUMZ), Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR), El Pollo Loco Holdings (Nasdaq: LOCO), FLY Leasing (NYSE: FLY), and Party City Holdco (Nasdaq: PRTY).
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- Challenger Job-Cut Report at 7:30 a.m.
- Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.
- Gallup Good Jobs Rate at 8:30 a.m.
- Import and Export Prices at 8:30 a.m.
- Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m.
- Quarterly Services Survey 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.
- 30-Year Bond Auction at 1 p.m.
- Fed Balance Sheet at 4:30 p.m.
- Money Supply at 4:30 p.m.