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The Dow Jones news today is highlighted by reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating U.S. President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice. Dow Jones futures are down 94 points ahead of the bell after the Fed announced another interest rate hike yesterday.
Here are the numbers from Wednesday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
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Now here's a closer look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus Thursday's economic calendar.
The Five Top Stock Market Stories for Thursday
- The Federal Reserve raised interest rates yesterday for the third time in seven months and the fourth time since the financial crisis. In a statement after the June FOMC meeting, central bank Chair Janet Yellen championed U.S. economic growth and the improving job market as justification for raising rates by 25 basis points. Yellen hinted that the Fed would like to see at least one more rate hike in 2017 and set a road map for its plan to unwind a $4.2 trillion bond portfolio in the years ahead.
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- Investors are concerned about news that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Trump for possible obstruction of justice. The Washington Post was the first media outlet to report that Mueller is expanding his investigation into the firing of former FBI Director James Comey as part of the investigation into the alleged interference in the 2016 election by the Russian government. The news again will distract the efforts by Washington leadership from enacting pro-economic growth policies like tax reform, infrastructure spending, and deregulation in the energy and banking sector.
- In economic news, the U.S. Labor Department will release initial jobless claims data before the bell. Following May's lackluster jobs report, investors will be looking to determine if there could be any improvements in June. Economists have forecast 242,000 jobless claims for the week, a figure slightly below last week's claim.
- Crude oil prices cratered and hit a six-month low on news of a huge spike in U.S. gasoline inventory levels and expectations that OPEC will not be able to make a dent in the rising glut in global supply. The WTI crude oil price today fell 0.5%. Brent crude dipped 0.2%.
- On the international front, European finance ministers are set to discuss another round of debt relief for the embattled Greek economy. We could see a bailout to the tune of roughly $7.9 billion by the end of the day. Greece's current bailout program is the third effort by international finance leaders since the nation fell into economic calamity in 2010. The International Monetary Front is likely to extend support in the near future.
Five Stocks to Watch Today: KR, SBUX, WFC, JBL, AMZN
- In earnings news, shares of The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) plunged nearly 10% after the grocery giant issued a dismal forward guidance outlook, and markets blamed competitive pressures from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT). The company topped analyst expectations by reporting earnings per share (EPS) of $0.58 on top of $36.2 billion in revenue. Wall Street expected EPS of $0.57 on top of $35.4 billion in revenue. However, investors were concerned about the firm's future and competitive pressures after it warned The Street in March that annual sales could decline by at least 1% due to rising competition in its industry.
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- Shares of Starbucks Corp. (Nasdaq: SBUX) are sliding again in pre-market hours after the company received a stock downgrade from an analyst at Wedbush Securities. Analyst Nick Seytan dropped the stock from a "Buy" to a "Hold" on concerns that the global coffee giant has been too optimistic about its quarterly sales. SBUX stock has declined for eight consecutive sessions. Despite the downgrade, Seytan held his price target of $65.00.
- Shares of Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) are under pressure after the company is facing new accusations that it issued improper changes to its mortgage products. According to reports, the company changed the loan terms of customers who were in bankruptcy proceedings without their knowledge. The news takes the situation for Wells Fargo from bad to worse for a company that has been embattled in controversy over the last two years. Last year, the company's former CEO stepped down after a scandal emerged that its employees were opening accounts without customers' knowledge.
- In earnings news, shares of Jabil Circuit Inc. (NYSE: JBL) added more than 1.8% after the company topped Wall Street earnings expectations. The company reported EPS of $0.33. That figure topped consensus expectations by two cents. The stock pushed higher in pre-market hours after the firm offered very strong guidance and predicted "best fourth quarter" in corporate history.
- In deal news, the buzz today is surrounding Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), which is exploring the possibility of purchasing collaboration platform Slack Technologies. This morning, Bloomberg announced that a deal would effectively value Slack at more than $9 billion.
- In pre-market hours, the S&P 500 was also down thanks to a 1.5% decline in Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL). Shares of Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), and Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) were also off more than 1% in pre-market hours.
- Look for additional earnings reports from Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FSNR) and Bob Evans Farms Inc. (Nasdaq: BOBE).
Thursday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.
- Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey at 8:30 a.m.
- Empire State Manufacturing Survey at 8:30 a.m.
- Import and Export Prices at 8:30 a.m.
- Industrial Production at 9:15 a.m.
- Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m.
- Housing Market Index at 10 a.m.
- EIA Natural Gas Report at 10:30 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.
- 30-Year TIPS Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Treasury International Capital at 4 p.m.
- Fed Balance Sheet at 4:30 p.m.
- Money Supply at 4:30 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.