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The Dow Jones today was lower in pre-market trading as investors braced for Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's second day of congressional commentary on interest rate hikes.
Rate fears overshadowed otherwise positive market news – jobless claims came in at 210,000 for last week, lower than the 226,000 expected by economists and the lowest level in 49 years.
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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 Top Stock Market Stories for Thursday
- Investors now anticipate that the Fed will raise interest rates up to four times in 2018. Fed Chair Jerome Powell told Congress that the Fed would continue to raise rates to stave off inflation. Today, Powell will speak before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on the Semi-Annual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress.
- President Donald Trump will consider new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports Thursday. The U.S. Commerce Department suggested last month that the government impose new restrictions and penalties on countries that sell steel and aluminum. The U.S. imports about 100 million tons of steel each year.
- Gold prices retreated again Tuesday on concerns about a stronger U.S. dollar. The price of the precious metal hit $1,306, a three-week low. Rising interest rates have fueled a sell-off in the gold market – however, investors might be ignoring the massive upside fueled by geopolitical concerns around the globe. Money Morning Resource Specialist Peter Krauth argues that gold prices have nowhere to go but up. Be sure to read his latest price projection right here.
- Crude oil prices dipped again Thursday thanks to a stronger U.S. dollar and rising U.S. crude inventory levels. The WTI crude oil price today dipped 0.8%. Brent crude fell 0.9%. The Energy Information Administration reconfirmed yesterday that U.S. production hit record levels in November 2017, while crude and gasoline stocks both increased last week by far more than analysts had projected. The 10.057 million barrels produced each day in the United States has overshadowed attempts by OPEC to curb excessive production and bring cooperation to an oversupplied global market.
Three Stocks to Watch Today: BBY, WMT, OSTK
- Shares of Best Buy Corp. (NYSE: BBY) are surging this morning after the retail giant crushed Wall Street earnings expectations. The firm reported earnings per share of $2.42 on top of $15.63 billion in revenue. The average analyst's estimate was $2.06 on top of $14.57 billion in revenue.
- Shares of Overstock.com Inc. (Nasdaq: OSTK) plunged more than 8% after the company revealed that the Securities Exchange Commission is investigating the company's proposed cryptocurrency operations. "In February 2018, the Division of Enforcement of the SEC informed the Company that it is conducting an investigation in the matter Re: Overstock.com, Inc. (NY-9777) and requested that the Company voluntarily provide certain documents related to the Offering and the Tokens in connection with its investigation," the company revealed today in an 8-K filing.
- Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) announced Thursday that it will raise the age required to purchase a gun to 21 and remove "assault-style" weapons from its website. The announcement comes a day after Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) announced it would no long sell "assault-style" guns at its retail locations. Retail companies are making these changes in the wake of a school shooting in Florida, in which a gunman used a semi-automatic rifle to kill 17 people.
- Look for additional earnings reports from VMWare Inc. (NYSE: VMW), Ambarella Inc. (Nasdaq: AMBA), American Outdoor Brands Corp. (Nasdaq: AOBC), Splunk Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLK), Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS), Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN), Kohl's Corp. (NYSE: KSS), Barnes & Noble Inc. (NYSE: BKS), and Pinnacle Foods Inc. (NYSE: PF).
Thursday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.
- Personal Income and Outlays at 8:30 a.m.
- PMI Manufacturing Index at 9:45 a.m.
- Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m.
- ISM Mfg Index at 10 a.m.
- Construction Spending at 10 a.m.
- Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell Speaks at 10 a.m.
- EIA Natural Gas Report at 10:30 a.m.
- New York Fed Bank President William Dudley speaks at 11 a.m.
- Three-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Six-Month Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Fed Balance Sheet at 4:30 p.m.
- Money Supply at 4:30 p.m.
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