Stocks mostly finished lower on Thursday — reversing early session gains led by large-cap industrials — after late session news that Special Council Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization demanding documents about Russia.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5%, the S&P 500 lost 0.1% in a slight violation of its 50-day moving average, the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.2% and the Russell 2000 lost 0.5%.
The end result of the day’s action was the S&P 500’s longest losing streak of the year, at four consecutive days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also failed to retake the psychological 25,000 level it has been playing with since early February’s selloff.
Friday will mark options expiration for the month ahead of Wednesday’s Federal Reserve policy meeting. A 0.25% rate hike is baked in, with the futures market assigning 90%+ odds that new chairman Jerome Powell pulls the trigger.
But more than that, traders will be watching for any movement on the “dot plot” concerning a possible increase in the odds of four hikes or more this year — something that currently the market has assigned roughly a one-third chance of. In his post announcement press conference, watch for comments on the direction of inflation, wages and whether financial asset prices are elevated.
Hot Stocks to Watch Today
With all that said, here are three stocks to watch for Friday:
Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) lost 4.8% on reports that its pending merger with Bayer will face additional anti-trust scrutiny ahead of a decision expected in April. The lurch lower took shares back below their 200-day moving average and returned prices to levels not seen since early January.
MON will next report results on April 4, before the bell. Analysts are looking for earnings of $3.39-per-share on revenues of $5.4 billion. When the company last reported on Jan. 4, earnings of 41 cents missed estimates by a penny on a 0.3% rise in revenues.
Walmart Inc (NYSE:WMT) lost 0.2%, recovering from a decline below its 200-day moving average for the first time since last March, on reports of a lawsuit from a former executive alleging misleading e-commerce results. Given the company’s intense battle with Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), this undermined much of the bull case for the retailer.
The company will next report results on May 22, before the bell. Analysts are looking for earnings of $1.12-per-share on revenues of $120.1 billion. When the company last reported on Feb. 20, earnings of $1.33 missed estimates by 4 cents on a 4.2% rise in revenues.
Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG) gained 4.8% after reporting a 3.3% increase in same-store sales for the fourth quarter and issuing better-than-expected forward guidance. That was enough for prices to touch the 50-day moving average.
Reflective of confidence in its outlook, the company increased the cash dividend by 12% and bumped up the stock buyback authorization by $1.0 billion.
Check out Serge Berger’s Trade of the Day for Friday.
Today’s Trading Landscape
To see a list of the companies reporting earnings today, click here.
For a list of this week’s economic reports due out, click here.
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