What Catalonia's Independence Vote Means for the Dow Jones Industrial Average Today

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 16 points in premarket hours today as investors prepare for a tumultuous secession vote in Spain over the weekend...

Catalonian secession or violence in the region could send European stocks plunging, and American stock markets won't be immune. Here's how to protect your money when international events threaten profits at home...

Here are the numbers from Thursday for the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq:

Index Previous Close Point Change Percentage Change
Dow Jones 22,381.20 40.49 0.18%
S&P 500 2,510.06 3.02 0.12%
Nasdaq 6,453.45 0.19 0.00%

Now here's a closer look at today's most important market events and stocks, plus Friday's economic calendar.

The Five Top Stock Market Stories for Friday

  • dow jones industrial averageFor once, the big geopolitical story of the day doesn't involve Washington or concerns about North Korea. The big event is happening in Catalonia, a region of northeast Spain and home to Barcelona. On Sunday, voters will take part in a controversial election on whether the region wants to split from Spain and declare its own independence. The separatist government is proceeding with the vote even though it is opposed by Madrid and the nation's highest court, which has already declared the vote illegal. The vote has the potential to send shock waves across the European Union.

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  • U.S. President Donald Trump's top economic adviser is taking a lot of heat after his endorsement for tax reform left many questioning his financial knowledge. Gary Cohn said that the tax cuts would allow American families to keep an extra $1,000. But it was what comes next - what he said families can do with the money - that had people mocking him. With the money, Cohn said, "they can renovate their kitchen, they can buy a new car, they can take a family vacation." Unfortunately, none of those three things cost just $1,000.
  • Hackers are at it again. This time, Whole Foods Market Inc. announced that hackers were able to exploit credit and debit card information at restaurants and other venues throughout their locations. The company denies that hackers accessed the main payment system tied to grocery purchasing. This is the latest high-profile cyber breach in the retail market. The announcement comes a few days after Equifax Inc. (NYSE: EFX) CEO Richard Smith retired after his company admitted to a massive breach that affected 143 million Americans.
  • Crude oil prices were up slightly in premarket hours as the third quarter came to a close. And oil bulls will have big grins on their faces today. That's because the oil markets had the strongest third quarter in 13 years. OPEC's goal of capping excessive production has largely helped rebalance the global markets, while rising demand has producers' bottom lines improving. The WTI crude oil price today added 0.1%, while Brent crude was up 0.1%.
  • Finally, retirees are really struggling these days to make ends meet. While the Dow Jones is up more than 200% since March 2009, those gains didn't really go to the middle class. Now, years later, the markets are sitting at near record highs, and valuations are at eye-popping levels. What is a retiree to do with little upside in the broader market? The answer is found in a little-known strategy that can net them 20% returns a year. This is the secret that Wall Street titans use. Click here to learn more.

Three Stocks to Watch Today: ROKU, WMT, KBH

  • Shares of video-streaming giant Roku Inc. (Nasdaq: ROKU) are continuing their positive momentum after debuting Thursday. Shares rallied more than 67% yesterday. This event was a much-needed debut for the IPO market, which has seen a string of weak companies go public this year, including Snapchat Inc. (NYSE: SNAP). ROKU shares are up 11.2% in premarket hours.
  • Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) are in focus after the company's e-commerce arm, Jet.com, announced plans to unveil a private-label grocery brand. The new line will include at least 60 different products and hit the market in the coming months. The company is stepping up its grocery e-commerce in the wake of rival Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) purchasing Whole Foods Market.

What Happened to Sears?

  • Share of KB Home (NYSE: KBH) added another 4.2% after the home builder easily beat Wall Street earnings expectations after the bell Thursday. The firm reported earnings per share of $0.51, a figure that topped consensus expectations by five cents. The firm also easily beat revenue growth thanks to a 12% bump in average selling prices. The report comes at a time that new home sales have been lackluster over credit concerns and rising home prices.
  • No U.S. companies report earnings on Friday.

Friday's U.S. Economic Calendar (all times EDT)

  • Personal Income and Outlays at 8:30 a.m.
  • Chicago PMI at 9:45 a.m.
  • Consumer Sentiment at 10 a.m.
  • Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Patrick Harker speaks at 11 a.m.
  • Baker-Hughes Rig Count at 1 p.m.

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