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In Dow Jones news today, the markets climbed on news that the U.S. economy topped expectations for job growth last month and unemployment reached its lowest level since 2007.
Here are the numbers from Friday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
|Index||Closing||Point Change||Percentage Change|
Now here's a closer look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus Monday's economic calendar.
The Five Top Stock Market Stories for Friday
- Shares of International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) fell 2.5% after Warren Buffett told CNBC yesterday he sold off about one-third of his stake in the tech giant during the first two quarters of 2017. Buffett said he doesn't value the company in the same way he did at the beginning of the decade. He also raised concerns about rising competition in the technology space.
- The U.S. Commerce Department reported that the American economy added 211,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate dipped to 4.4%, a near 10-year low. The surge in jobs outpaced economists' expectations of 185,000 new positions. The increased tightening in the labor market has traders bolstering expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in June. According to the CME FedWatch Tool, the probability of a rate hike next month sits at 78.5%.
- Crude oil prices climbed today on hopes that OPEC members and Russia will vote to extend their deal to cap excess global production. This morning, the Saudi OPEC governor said that members and non-members must extend the deal to help support prices. The WTI crude oil price today added 1.8%. Brent crude added 1.82%.
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- While chatter about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and gutting of the Dodd-Frank Act dominated headlines this week, it almost went unnoticed that Congress passed a bill that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. The passage of this funding will prevent a government shutdown and avoid economic instability for the short term. In other words, the government just kicked the can back down the road. But this week's threat had many investors wondering the same question: "How many times has the government shut down?" Money Morning answers that question and reminds investors of the stocks that are most threatened by a shutdown. Read our latest insight, right here.
- Finally, traders and investors are also awaiting the French presidential elections. A surprise win by the right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen would likely rock many stock and financial markets. However, centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron fared pretty well in a televised debate Wednesday, which assuaged European market watchers. Macron is heavily favored to win Sunday's election. However, big elections on the world stage have not turned out as expected over the past many months.
Four Stocks to Watch Friday: BRK.A, CI, TWTR, SHLD
- Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A) is in focus as investors prepare for Warren Buffett's annual "Woodstock of Capitalism," and for his firm to report earnings after the bell. The meeting is one of the most watched and studied events of the year, given Buffett's influence over the markets and companies for decades. Money Morning breaks down of the biggest things shareholders could ask Buffett this weekend. Here's what you need to know.
- Shares of Cigna Corp. (NYSE: CI) added more than 2% after the health insurance giant topped Wall Street profit and revenue expectations in the first quarter. The company reported earnings per share (EPS) of $2.77 on top of $10.34 billion in revenue. Analysts had expected $2.44 on top of $9.94 billion in revenue. Despite today's uptick, markets are still uncertain of what will happen for insurance firms like Cigna in the wake of Congress' effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans passed a bill Thursday that will pass to the Senate in the coming days for debate. It remains uncertain whether the bill will pass later this month.
- Shares of Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) added another 1.1% on the day and have pushed higher since Internet billionaire Mark Cuban threw his support behind the company's artificial intelligence technologies. Investors have also been bullish on the news that the social media giant has partnered with news and media company Bloomberg LP to offer 24/7 video news broadcasts starting this fall. But investors should be wary of such optimism. Bloomberg isn't going to save Twitter stock... Here's why.
- Shares of Sears Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD) added 3.6% on the day, but it remains very unclear why investors started to buy up the stock. After all, shares are down more than 34% in the last 12 months, and the company could implode at any time. In fact, Sears is just one of dozens of retail companies that are on our "Retail Death Watch." So far in 2017, 21 retailers have announced closures, according to a March 20 report from Forbes.
- The other top stocks to watch today (Friday) included ImmunoGen Inc. (Nasdaq: IMGN) and Zynga Inc. (Nasdaq: ZNGA). Here is why those companies were generating headlines Friday.
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Monday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard speaks at 8:35 a.m.
- Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester speaks at 8:45 a.m.
- Labor Market Conditions Index at 10 a.m.
- Four-Week Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Three-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- Six-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- TD Ameritrade IMX at 12:30 p.m.
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.