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Dow Jones Today: Let’s Make a Deal

Todd Shriber

Stocks rallied Wednesday after President Donald Trump implied he’s open to making a deal with China on trade, but gains were capped by the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting.

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Those minutes revealed that some of the central bank’s governors pressed for a cut of 50 basis points last month, but they were obviously out-voted as the Fed proceeded with a reduction of just 25 basis points. What put a lid on today’s upside for equities were comments that the July rate cut was not necessarily a precursor for more reductions.

“In their discussion of the outlook for monetary policy beyond this meeting, participants generally favored an approach in which policy would be guided by incoming information and its implications for the economic outlook and that avoided any appearance of following a pre-set course,” according to the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

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Currently, Fed funds futures are pricing in another 65 basis points of rate cuts this year, indicating there is room for markets to be left disappointed by the U.S. central bank.

Still, the Nasdaq Composite notched an impressive gain of 0.90% today while the S&P 500 settled higher by 0.82%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tacked on 0.93% amid broad-based strength in the blue-chip index. In late trading, 29 of the 30 Dow stocks were higher.

Dow Winners Galore

While the Fed minutes may have lacked the punch investors were hoping for, there were some solid earnings reports (non-Dow stocks) out of the retail sector that gave market participants reason to be the oft-discussed recession is a long way from materializing. On that note, Nike (NYSE:NKE) was the Dow’s best performer today with a gain of 2.83%.

Sticking with consumer cyclical fare for a moment, McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) rose 2.25% after SunTrust analyst Jake Bartlett opined that the company’s current Buy One, Get One (BOGO) for $1 promotion won’t be a drag on profits. He’s got a “buy” rating and $240 price target on McDonald’s.

The analyst’s “research shows that McDonald’s new offer is less promotional than its two for $5 mix-and-match deal that the company has cycled through in recent years—meaning McDonald’s isn’t meaningfully lowering the bar on prices in a way that would force rivals to discount as well,” according to Barron’s.

I’m not saying it’s all clear to wade into the energy sector, but it is encouraging to see more positive action out of oil giants Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX), both of which traded higher today on the back of some bullish analyst chatter.

BMO analyst Daniel Boy said Exxon and Chevron, the two largest U.S. oil companies are the “lowest risk” names and best of breed in the energy patch. Specific to Chevron, that’s the second time in a matter of days an analyst has been cheery on the company.

Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA), the Dow’s largest component, added 2.49% today on news that the company is looking to fill hundreds of temporary jobs related to getting the 737 MAX passenger back in the air. Wall Street is hoping that will happen by the end of this year and if it does, Boeing shares likely move higher.

DJIA Bottom Line

It’s easy to get wrapped in the aforementioned Fed “disappointment,” if it can really be called that. Additionally, it’s easy (and warranted) to be skeptical of President Trump’s comments on deals with China because recent history shows this situation is fluid.

Maybe what investors should be honing in on is the likelihood of recession. Look at Target (NYSE:TGT) earnings. That stock surged over 20% today on volume that was nearly seven times the daily average because it guided higher. Companies like Target don’t guide higher when recessions are right around the corner.

Todd Shriber does not own any of the aforementioned securities.

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