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The Dow Jones today looks primed to break 25,000 points after the market kicked off 2018 with record highs during its first two trading sessions.
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Here are the numbers from Wednesday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
|Index||Previous Close||Point Change||Percentage Change|
Now here's a closer look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus Thursday's economic calendar.
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The Four Top Stock Market Stories for Thursday
- On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve released minutes from its December meeting. The central bank revealed that its leadership lacked a consensus on the frequency of interest rate hikes heading into the New Year, although it's clear the Fed will raise rates again. In addition, central bankers revealed uncertainty over the economic and fiscal impact of the recently passed tax reform law. The Fed does hope that tax reform will provide a boost to the economy, particularly thanks to a rise in consumer spending and an uptick in business investment. The uncertainty was over just how dramatic those increases would be in the years ahead.
- Semiconductor giants like Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NYSE: AMD) are under pressure over concerns about vulnerabilities to their computer and mobile chips. New research indicates that two significant design flaws have made such chips highly vulnerable to cybersecurity issues. The flaws, dubbed Meltdown and Spectre, have set off a bit of a media storm this morning, with many device owners wondering how vulnerable they are to security breaches.
- Shares of Snap Inc. (NYSE: SNAP) fell another 2.5% thanks to a downgrade from investment firm Cowen. The bank slashed its price target from $12.00 to $11.00 and downgraded the stock to "underperform." The decision was based on Cowen's view of ad purchasing, the media platform's weak return-on-investment figures, and data and user targeting. This was quite a price cut for a stock currently trading around $15 per share.
- Crude oil prices continue to show strength thanks to three bullish factors around the globe. Increased unrest in Iran, frigid temperatures across the United States, and optimism over OPEC's deal to cap excessive production continue to support oil prices. The WTI crude oil price today added 0.2%. Brent crude was unchanged.
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Four Stocks to Watch Today: WBA, JCP, TSLA
- Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NYSE: WBA) are up slightly in pre-market hours after the firm reported quarterly earnings. WBA topped Wall Street profit and revenue expectations slightly. The firm reported earnings per share of $1.28 on top of $30.75 billion in revenue. Analysts had a consensus expectation of $1.27 on $30.32 billion in revenue.
- Shares of JC Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) added another 2.1% in pre-market hours. The stock popped more than 5.6% Wednesday after the retail firm announced that same-store sales during November and December increased by 3.4%. This is one of the first confirmations about the performance of struggling brick-and-mortar stores during the holiday season. Americans increased their consumption to record levels during the holiday shopping season. However, it was likely just a one-time blip, and e-commerce giants like Amazon.com Inc. (Nadsaq: AMZN) and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) will continue to dominate the holiday seasons in the future.
- It could be a very long day for Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA) investors. Yesterday, the firm reported it is still well behind on production goals for its Model 3 vehicles. The firm produced less than 2,500 sedans over the previous three months, well short of the overly optimistic, weekly 5,000 mark it had told shareholders last year. TSLA stock is off 3% in pre-market hours and could fall lower when trading begins.
- Look for additional earnings reports from Monsanto Corp. (NYSE: MON), Sonic Corp. (Nasdaq: SONC), RPM International Inc. (NYSE: RPM), and PriceSmart Inc. (Nasdaq: PSMT).
Thursday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- Challenger Job-Cut Report at 7:30 a.m.
- ADP Employment Report at 8:15 a.m.
- Jobless Claims at 8:30v
- Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m.
- PMI Services Index at 9:45 a.m.
- EIA Natural Gas Report at 10:30 a.m.
- EIA Petroleum Status Report at 11 a.m.
- Three-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Six-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Three-Year Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 10-Year Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 30-Year Bond Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard Speaks at 1:30 p.m.
- Fed Balance Sheet at 4:30 p.m.
- Money Supply at 4:30 p.m.
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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.