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Continued merger and acquisition activity in the healthcare sector is a sign the industry is moving toward higher profitability and higher share prices.
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.
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The Five Top Stock Market Stories for Thursday
- Health insurance giant Cigna Corp. (NYSE: CI) announced plans to purchase health benefits management giant Express Scripts Holding Co. (Nasdaq: ESRX) for $67 billion. The deal includes roughly $15 billion in debt. This is one of the latest in a string of healthcare acquisitions that sees consolidation between the insurance and pharmaceutical benefits space. Shares of CI fell 5% in pre-market hours. ESRX stock added 17% this morning.
- Markets remain in a tight trading range despite ongoing concerns about a potential trade war between the United States and international trade partners. In addition, investors are still weighing news that White House economic advisor Gary Cohn has resigned from his position. This morning, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon called Cohn's resignation "terrible."
- This afternoon, U.S. President Donald Trump will announce that the United States will place 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum. The decision is aimed at improving the competitiveness of the U.S. steel industry. However, the tariffs are likely raise the cost of everyday goods, effectively acting as a tax on everyday consumers. Trump has suggested that he may ease the tariffs on key trade partners Mexico and Canada due to NAFTA.
- Crude oil prices ticked higher in pre-market hours as markets eyed news of increased domestic inventory levels. The WTI crude oil price today added 0.2%. Brent crude gained 0.1%. Yesterday, the Energy Information Administration announced that domestic supply increased by 2.4 million barrels. In addition, China is importing far less crude following its Lunar New Year holidays.
- The price of gold was steady ahead of today's meeting among officials at the European Central Bank. Gold was sitting a little higher than $1,326 per ounce after the U.S dollar found a bit of stability on Thursday morning. Traders are waiting to see if Trump offers exemptions on steel and aluminum tariffs. In addition, gold prices will move based on the decision on interest rates by the European Central Bank.
Stocks to Watch Today: KR, COST, AMZN, JPM
- Is a "deep correction" on stocks coming? According to JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) co-President Daniel Pinto, we could witness a stock market correction as significant as 40% in the months ahead. Pinto said recently that the downturn could be significant due to valuations in the equities market. The reality is that some market metrics are flashing warning signs, and it's important that investors be prepared. That's why we've created a guide to help retail investors prepare for the possibility of one of the most significant shocks in market history. You can get your copy right here.
- Shares of Costco Wholesale Corp. (NYSE: COST) fell 0.7% after the company fell short of Wall Street earnings expectations. The firm reported earnings per share (EPS) of $1.42, a number that was off by $0.05. Despite strong sales growth, upbeat optimism over tax reform, and plans to reinvest savings into employee salaries, the retailer's ongoing competition against e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) continues to weigh on investor sentiment.
- Shares of Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) fell nearly 4% after the grocery giant reported quarterly earnings before the bell on Thursday. Shares fell even though the firm matched Wall Street EPS estimates of $0.63 and beat revenue expectations.
- Look for additional earnings reports from Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL), VeriFone Systems Inc. (NYSE: PAY), American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO), Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR), Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN), and Tech Data Corp. (Nasdaq: TECD).
Thursday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EST)
- Jobless Claims at 8:30 a.m.
- Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index at 9:45 a.m.
- Quarterly Services Survey 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.
- Three-Year Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 10-Year Note Announcement at 11 a.m.
- 30-Year Bond Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Fed Balance Sheet at 4:30 p.m.
- Money Supply at 4:30 p.m.
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