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Today's market highlights:
- Ongoing geopolitical concerns around North Korea and Syria offset increased optimism surrounding China's strong economic growth.
- China's economy grew at 6.9% in the first quarter.
- Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) kick off a very busy week of earnings reports.
- Gold prices hit a five-month high uncertainty grows. Geopolitical worries have driven investors to consider safe-haven assets.
- On Friday, U.S. markets were closed in observance of Good Friday. On Thursday, April 13, the Dow fell 138 points Thursday after the United States dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb ever in Afghanistan to target ISIS.
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Let's look at the numbers from Thursday (the markets were closed on Friday) for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:
Dow Jones: 20,453.25; -138.61; -0.67%
S&P 500: 2,328.95; -15.98; -0.68%
Nasdaq: 5,805.15; -31.01; -0.53%
Here's a look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus a look at Monday's economic calendar.
What's Ahead for the Dow Jones Industrial Average Today
- Dow Jones futures are projecting a 44-point open today.
- China's economy continues to show strong growth. China reported that its economy grew by 6.9% in the first quarter, easily topping investor expectations.
- Markets are keeping an eye on geopolitical developments in North Korea. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to encourage the denuclearization of North Korea. Over the weekend, North Korea had an embarrassing missile test in which a malfunction led to the immediate explosion of the weapon.
- Money Morning Executive Editor Bill Patalon issued a special report on Friday on the growing tensions between the United States and North Korea. Investors should know about two companies that are likely to help reduce geopolitical exposure. Here are the two stocks to watch right now.
- Ongoing geopolitical concerns have pushed gold prices higher. Gold added another 0.3% in pre-market hours and hit a five-month high as investors continue to flock to safe-haven assets. In addition to concerns about North Korea, gold prices are reacting to the upcoming first round of the French presidential election. The flight to safety has seen the U.S. dollar fall to a five-month low against the Japanese yen.
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- Crude oil prices were falling early Monday in reaction to North Korea's failed missile launch and news that operating U.S. production rigs continue to increase in number. Signs that the United States continues to increase production have offset any hope that OPEC can reduce global output and help support prices. Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) reported on Thursday that the number of U.S. rigs increased by 11 in the week ending April 13.
- The WTI crude oil price today was off 0.17% while Brent crude fell 0.14%.
- While oil prices continue to tick higher, one of the best ways to make money is actually in the alternative energy industry. Nations around the globe are moving on from carbon-based fuels, and the global alternative energy sector topped $1.35 trillion last year. We have just put together a report for Money Morning readers on the best way to make money in this booming sector. Here's how to make alternative energy investing lucrative in 2017.
- But the big story is happening in the U.S. healthcare industry. Despite staggering increases in drug prices, Americans still aren't living as long as those in other countries. And the worst part is they're paying more, too... Money Morning reports on an incredible story about the state of the American healthcare industry. Here's what you need to know about the American life expectancy and just how much money it is costing citizens as they grow older. Read this controversial report here.
Stocks to Watch Today, April 17, 2017:
- Shares of Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) are in focus as the global streaming giant prepares to report first-quarter earnings. Analysts expect that the company will report a profit thanks to an uptick in global subscriptions. Company executives are also expected to announce that the firm will air more than 1,000 hours of original programming in 2017. That figure is more than 50% higher than last year's original content development.
- Meanwhile, look for an earnings report after the bell from United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL). While analysts expect the company will report earnings in line with expectations, the bigger story will be tied to the firm's ongoing public relations problems. After last week's problems when a passenger was dragged off a flight against his will, a new report indicates that the airline threw a couple off a plane who were en route to their own wedding in Central America.
- Look for additional earnings reports from JB Hunt Transport Services Inc. (Nasdaq: JBHT), Barracuda Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: CUDA), Brown & Brown Inc. (Nasdaq: BRO), and Celanese Corp. (NYSE: CE).
Today's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)
- Empire State Manufacturing Survey at 8:30 a.m.
- Housing Market Index at 10 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.
- Treasury International Capital at 4 p.m.
- Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer speaks at 5 p.m.