Dow Jones Industrial Average Slumps 78 Points Ahead of Yellen’s Statements

Money Morning Contributor

For Sept. 24, 2015, here’s how the Dow Jones Industrial Average did today, earnings reports, the top stock market news, and stocks to watch based on today’s market moves…

How Did the Stock Market Do Today?

Dow Jones: 16,201.32; -78.57; -0.48%

Dow Jones Industrial Average
S&P 500: 1,932.24; -6.52;
-0.34%

Nasdaq: 4,734.48; -18.27; -0.38%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average today (Thursday) fell 78 points ahead of a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen tonight on inflation. Investors are anxious to look for clues on when the Federal Reserve may hike interest rates after the central bank cited concerns about global growth as a primary reason for not tightening monetary policy last week. For more on what to look for during the speech, go here.

This morning, a report indicated U.S. companies reduced investment plans in the month of August, while the number of Americans seeking jobless benefits increased marginally. Despite ongoing economic growth concerns around the globe, the U.S. economy has been largely resilient to negative forces.

The S&P 500 Volatility Index (VIX), the market’s fear gauge, gained 2% on the day.

Top Stock Market News Today

  • Stock Market News: Just three of 10 S&P 500 sectors were in positive territory today, led by basic materials. Healthcare stocks slumped 1% as biotech companies continued to decline in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s push for “price controls” on specialty drugs. The iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index ETF (Nasdaq: IBB) declined another 2% on the day.
  • Oil Prices Rise: Oil prices pushed higher today on bullish sentiment produced by the latest inventory report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. WTI prices added 1.3% to hit $45.07, while Brent oil prices added 1.1% to hit $47.91. Shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) were up 0.6% after the company announced plans to delay repairs at its Torrance refinery in California. Rival Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) gained 1% on the day.
  • On Tap Friday: Tomorrow, the U.S. Commerce Department will issue its third revision of the second-quarter GDP figure, while the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment reading for September arrives. Companies reporting earnings on Friday include BlackBerry Ltd. (Nasdaq: BBRY) and Finish Line Inc. (Nasdaq: FINL).

Stocks to Watch: KO, CAT, BABA, VLKAY

  • Stocks to Watch No. 1, KO: Shares of The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) were up 0.9% after the company announced plans to sell its nine U.S. production facilities to its three largest independent bottling partners. The company said it is part of a larger plan to reduce manufacturing costs in what is now a very low-margin business. The nine bottling plants will sell for roughly $380 million.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 2, CAT: Shares of Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) cratered more than 6% today after the company slashed its 2015 revenue forecast and announced plans to lay off up to 10,000 employees. The stock hit a five-year low as concerns about the global economy weigh down the industrial giant. The firm said its biggest customers in mining and oil production are slashing budgets in the face of declining commodity prices. Caterpillar isn’t the only company to issue similar warnings or lay off workers. Recently both Joy Global Inc. (NYSE: JOY) issued a profit warning and Deere & Co. (NYSE: D) announced plans to cut its workforce by 900.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 3, BABA: Shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) slipped more than 1% in early trading after the firm’s lock-up period ended. Shares hit an all-time low of $58 after the opening bell and remain down more than 8.5% on the week. Here’s a breakdown of what is happening with Alibaba stock and why negative predictions for China’s largest e-commerce company are completely off base.
  • Stocks to Watch No. 4, VLKAY: Shares of Volkswagen AG (OTCMKTS ADR: VLKAY) were down 0.4% in early trading after the company announced it has selected Matthias Mueller, the head of its Porsche sports car brand, as the firm’s newest CEO. The company is reeling after a massive vehicle emissions scandal rocked investors and has become so serious that some economists are concerned this could fuel broader implications for the entire German economy. Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald said this scandal could be “an extinction-level event for VW as we know it today.” To learn how you can play Volkswagen stock and make some money during this crisis, be sure to click here now.

What Investors Must Know This Week

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