Fed Worries Weigh On Dow Jones Industrial Average

Biotechs propped up the Nasdaq Composite (COMP)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Mar 17, 2015 at 4:17 PM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Investors took a risk-off approach ahead of tomorrow's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy decision, pressuring the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:DJI) to a triple-digit loss -- its seventh 100-plus-point move in eight sessions. Specifically, Wall Street is eager to see whether the central bank's latest statement omits the word "patient," which could signal an interest rate hike on the horizon. While the blue-chip barometer and broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) both struggled today, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (COMP) managed a modest gain, boosted by another strong performance by biotechs. Elsewhere, crude oil panned another six-year low, while gold reached levels not seen since early November.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 17,849.08) spent the entire day south of breakeven, and ended with a 128.3-point, or 0.7%, loss. Just five of the index's 30 components settled in the green, paced by 0.6% gains at Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) and The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO). The other 25 blue chips retreated, led once again by DuPont (NYSE:DD), which slid 3.1%.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,074.20) dipped 7 points, or 0.3%. On the other hand, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 4,937.43) added 7.9 points, or 0.2%.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 15.66) rebounded slightly, tacking on 0.1 point, or 0.3%.

CLOSING SUMMARY – INDICES

CLOSING SUMMARY – NYSE AND NASDAQ

5 Items on Our Radar Today:

  1. Housing starts dove to levels not seen in a year last month, impacted by inclement weather and a strong dollar, the Commerce Department said. Specifically, groundbreaking fell 17% to an annualized rate of 897,000 units -- well below the 1.05 million expected by economists. (Reuters)
  2. The Labor Department said jobless rates dropped in 24 states during the month of January, while they remained unchanged in 18 states and rose in eight. North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate, at 2.8%, while Mississippi and Nevada tied for the highest, at 7.1%. (USA Today)
  3. Despite GPRO's gains, options traders placed skeptical bets.
  4. Boston Scientific Corporation (NYSE:BSX) maintained its upward momentum, following a recent device approval from the FDA.
  5. How did Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) traders react to the prospect of competition from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)? Find out here.
EARNINGS

For a look at today's options movers and commodities activity, head to page 2.

STOCKS – NOTABLE CALL ACTIVITY

STOCKS – NOTABLE PUT ACTIVITY

Commodities:

Crude oil hit another six-year low today, and endured a sixth consecutive losing session, as traders anticipated another rise in weekly U.S. stockpiles. By session's end, the April-dated contract dipped 42 cents, or 1%, to settle at $43.46 per barrel.

Gold landed at its lowest settlement in over four months, as investors braced for the FOMC's policy decision. At the close, gold for April delivery was $5, or 0.4%, lower, at $1,148.20 per ounce.


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