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The stock market news today begins with the Dow projecting a 51-point gain before the opening bell. But Wall Street is keeping a close eye on a new healthcare bill that was delayed in the House of Representatives yesterday due to opposition from within the Republican camp and from outside influencers like the Koch Brothers. The House will vote today, although there remains uncertainty that the bill will pass.
President Donald Trump is playing hardball with the Freedom Caucus of the Republican Party and has said that if the bill does not pass, his administration will leave the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) unchanged and move on to other policy priorities.
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On Thursday, the Dow lost four points thanks to increased uncertainty over the fate of the healthcare bill. Shares of health insurance stocks Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) were a drag on the markets.
Let's look at the numbers from Thursday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 20,656.58; -4.72; -0.02%
S&P 500: 2,345.96; -2.49; -0.11%
Nasdaq: 5,817.69; -3.95; -0.07%
Here's a look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus a look at Friday's economic calendar.
What's Ahead for the Dow Jones Industrial Average Today
Dow Jones futures are pushing higher in pre-market hours. While the healthcare vote and insurance stocks will be the primary focus during Friday's trading session, the markets will receive a barrage of speeches by members of the U.S. Federal Reserve before the bell.
Expect a lot of speculation on the timing of the next interest rate hike by the central bank. Last week, the Fed raised rates for the second time since December 2016. However, the dollar's rally stalled when Fed Chair Janet Yellen failed to suggest more hikes were imminent.
Money Morning Options Trading Specialist Tom Gentile has identified the sector most vulnerable to another interest rate hike, right here.
Crude oil prices were rising on news that Saudi Arabia planned to cut supplies to the United States. However, concerns about rising U.S. inventory levels continue to offset optimism about OPEC's proposal to extend its agreement to cap excessive production. A global glut continues to emerge thanks to the ongoing battle between OPEC and United States shale producers. The real winner of that battle has turned out to be investors. Here's why.
The WTI crude oil price today added 0.75%. Brent crude gained 0.65%.
Trending: The Best Oil Company Stocks to Buy Now
But the big news is the price of gold.
After the Fed's rate hike last week, many investors decided that investing in gold could make them a nice profit. Since the FOMC meeting on March 15, gold prices have added 4%. But we fully anticipate that gold has a lot more room to run in 2017.
How much? Money Morning Resource Specialist Peter Krauth projects that gold prices will hit $1,400 per ounce by the end of the year. That's almost a 12% gain.
But if you want to make serious gains – we're talking almost 50% – then you need to know about one of the best gold stocks to buy. We explore the value in one of the top gold mining stocks, right here.
Stocks to Watch Today, March 24, 2017:
- Telecom stocks are in focus after the Senate passed a bill that repealed Obama-era regulations that would require Internet service providers to protect consumer privacy and data. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives and would favor firms like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ),
- In earnings news, shares of Micron Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: MU) rallied more than 11.5% after the company easily topped Wall Street earnings expectations. The firm reported earnings per share (EPS) of $0.90 on top of $4.65 billion in revenue. Those figures easily beat Wall Street's expectations of $0.85 per share and revenue of $4.64 billion. It was also a huge turnaround for the company after reporting a net loss of $0.05 per share on top $2.93 billion in revenue during the same period last year.
- Look for additional earnings reports from Finish Line Inc. (Nasdaq: FINL) and INSYS Therapeutics (Nasdaq: INSY).
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- Durable Goods Orders at 8:30 a.m.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Charles Evans speaks at 8:30 a.m.
- San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams speaks at 8:30 a.m.
- Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard Speaks at 9:05 a.m.
- PMI Composite Flash at 9:45 a.m.
- New York Federal Reserve Bank President William Dudley Speaks at 10 a.m.
- Baker Hughes Rig Count at 1 p.m.