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In Dow Jones news, markets slumped Friday (March 24, 2017).
Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan informed President Donald Trump that Republicans did not have the necessary votes to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The House has pulled the bill from a vote, according to various reports.
Fears of a stock market sell-off have been growing over the healthcare battle on Capitol Hill.
Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald recently discussed the likelihood of a stock market sell-off without the healthcare vote.
Let's look at the numbers from Friday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 20,596.72; -59.86; -0.29%
S&P 500: 2,343.98; -1.98; -0.08%
Nasdaq: 5,829.99; +11.04; +0.21%
Now, here's a look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus a preview of Monday's economic calendar.
DJIA Today: Dow Slides as GOP Lacks Votes to Repeal Obamacare
The markets are not so much concerned about the healthcare law's passage as they are about the impact on President Trump's other policy goals moving forward. The healthcare battle could be a precursor to what may come regarding Trump's other goals of corporate tax reform, income tax reform, deregulation, and a $1 trillion infrastructure package.
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Surprisingly, it wasn't the Democrats who appear to have done in the replacement bill. Instead, the bulk of opposition came from within the Republican camp and from outside influencers like the Koch Brothers.
Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin tried to calm the markets' anxiety by saying that the administration will try to still get tax reform done by August. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) – widely considered the markets' fear gauge – jumped more than 3% today.
Oil prices pushed higher Friday despite rising concerns about an increase in U.S. production. Rising domestic inventories had pushed crude to roughly four-month lows in previous sessions. Some optimism arose on word that Saudi Arabia had cut exports to the United States. That news was offset by word that the number of U.S. rigs in operation increased for the 10th consecutive week.
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According to Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI), the number of rigs in operation increased last week by 21 to reach 652. That is a much higher figure than the 372 in operation at this time in 2016.
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The WTI crude oil price today and Brent crude oil price climbed 0.7%.
But the other big story today is the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.
This morning, the Trump administration issued a permit that will allow for the construction of the pipeline almost a decade after it was introduced. The announcement came on the same day that North Dakota reported a pipeline spill was three times larger than previously estimated.
Shares of TransCanada Corp. (NYSE: TRP) – the owner and operator of the Keystone pipeline – rallied as much as 7% but fell in the afternoon after it emerged that other obstacles still face the project. Here's more on the announcement and the other stocks driving today's news.
Stock Market News and Top Stocks to Watch Today: March 24, 2017
- In activist news, shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) rallied more than 5% on news that a Chinese industrial investment firm has purchased a 21% stake in the entertainment company. Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX) sold the stake to Chinese investors at a stunning 33% premium, driving other shares much higher.
- Retail stocks were again under pressure. Shares of Macy's Inc. (NYSE: M) hit a 52-week low Friday after the firm received a brutal assessment by Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C). The investment bank dropped its rating from a "Buy" to "Neutral" as the firm continues to struggle. Money Morning readers have been well aware that shares of Macy's and Sears Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: SHLD) have been on a decline for more than a decade as e-commerce crushes the firms' profitability.
- Shares of Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) added more than 1% on news that the company is exploring a paid-premium model in order to boost revenue. The company has struggled to bolster user growth in recent quarters.
Monday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey at 10:30 a.m.
- Four-Week Bill Announcement at 11 a.m.
- Three-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- Six-Month Bill Auction at 11:30 a.m.
- Two-Year Note Auction at 1 p.m.
- Chicago Federal Reserve Bank Chair Charles Evans Speaks at 1:15 p.m.
- Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Kaplan Speaks 6:30 p.m.