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The Dow Jones news today features the end of U.S. President Donald Trump's "American Manufacturing Council," as its CEOs quit. Dow Jones futures are down 65 points this morning after comments released from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday show a split among FOMC members. The committee members don't agree on the timing of their plan to begin cutting the bank's balance sheet or when they would next raise interest rates.
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
- President Trump dissolved his American Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum after eight chief executives resigned from their posts in the wake of the Charlottesville attack over the weekend. CEOs have departed their roles after Trump blamed "many sides" for the violence and appeared reluctant to condemn white supremacists. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook criticized the president's response to the events.
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- Increased isolation for President Trump has many concerned that the president's planned economic policies are officially dead in the water. Republican leaders have also been critical of Trump's response to the Charlottesville attack, and few appear to be willing to find themselves aligned with him as Congress attempts to enact tax reform by the end of the year.
- While Trump remains a major distraction in Washington, markets are still weighing the ongoing tensions between the United States and North Korea. Tensions have appeared to slow after North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un said that his country will not bomb Guam, the home of U.S. military bases in the Pacific. The decision was a strategic chess move aimed at giving the nations one last chance to strike a deal – on North Korea's terms. Here's what you need to know about this deal – and why it's no good for the United States.
- Thursday features a busy day of economic data. This morning, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits hit 232,000 last week. That figure is below the 240,000 expected by economists. Keep an eye out today for a monthly report on e-commerce retail sales, an update on industrial production, and two speeches by members of the Federal Reserve.
- Crude oil prices were falling in premarket hours after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced a slump in U.S. crude inventories and a rise in U.S. production. According to one report, U.S. stocks fell below 2016 levels thanks to increased demand. However, another report indicated that production in the U.S. is up 13% year over year. The WTI crude oil price today fell 0.2%. Brent crude dipped 0.1%.
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- Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) popped more than 6.8% in premarket hours after the Chinese e-commerce giant crushed Wall Street earnings expectations. The firm reported earnings per share (EPS) of $1.17 on top of $7.4 billion in revenue. Analysts expected an EPS of $0.93 on $7.08 billion in revenue. Alibaba has long been a favorite stock of Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald, who has recommended it alongside Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) since the firm first went public.
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- Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) fell 2.5% in premarket hours after the company reported second-quarter earnings in line with Wall Street estimates. The firm reported EPS of $1.08 on top of $123.5 billion in revenue. Those figures topped consensus expectations of $1.07 per share on $122.7 billion in revenue. The downturn was disappointing, given that the company matched same-store sales and announced that its e-commerce platform had increased by 60% compared to the same period last year. But the company reported a decline in margins, and that was enough for traders to bid the stock price down.
- Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE: BRK.A) announced it will not increase its bid to purchase a large share of utility giant Oncor Electric. Buffett's investment firm currently has a $9 billion offer for 80% of the firm. Activist hedge fund Elliott Management, which is the largest creditor of the utility giant's parent company, is attempting to hold out for $9.3 billion.
- Look for additional earnings reports from Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), Applied Materials Inc. (Nasdaq: AMAT), Ross Stores Inc. (Nasdaq: ROST), Staples Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS).
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.
- Industrial Production at 9:15 a.m.
- Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m.
- E-Commerce Retail Sales at 10 a.m.
- Leading Indicators 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.
- Two-Year FRN Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Five-Year TIPS Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Dallas Fed Bank President Robert Kaplan speaks at 1 p.m.
- Minneapolis Fed Bank President Neel Kashkari speaks at 1:45 p.m.
- Fed Balance Sheet at 4:30 p.m.
- Money Supply at 4 p.m.