Dow Jones Industrial Average Ends Cautiously Higher Ahead of Fed Decision

Analysts Predict Huge Upside for This Heavily Shorted Biotech

by Josh Selway

Published on Sep 20, 2016 at 4:23 PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) traded higher from start to finish, but ended just off a session low, as stocks' gains were held in check ahead of tomorrow's key policy decisions from the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan (BoJ). On the data front, August housing starts disappointed, putting pressure on big-name homebuilders. Meanwhile, biotech stocks across the board enjoyed huge days, while crude oil futures overcame early losses -- though news of a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation rattled Dow component Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM). 

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

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA - 18,129.96) gave up a triple-digit lead, but held on for a 9.8-point, or 0.1%, win. Half of the Dow's 30 components managed to close higher, led by McDonald's Corporation's (NYSE:MCD) 1.1% advance. XOM was the biggest loser, down 1.5% at the close. 

The S&P 500 Index (SPX - 2,139.76) ended the day up 0.6 point, or 0.03%. The Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 5,241.35) also gained, picking up 6.3 points, or 0.1%. 

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX - 15.92) rose too, ending 0.4 point, or 2.5%, higher. 

Indexes closing summary September 20
NYSE and NASDAQ stats September 20

5 Items on Our Radar Today

  1. Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) CEO John Stumpf was heavily criticized today by the Senate Banking Committee, following the company's phony account scandal. Although Stumpf apologized and insisted the practice was not an "orchestrated effort," some senators were calling for his resignation.  (The USA Today)
  2. Oil giant XOM is reportedly being investigated by the SEC. More specifically, the SEC is apparently looking into the company's accounting practices and how it factors climate-change risks into project prices. (CNBC)
  3. The exchange switcheroo and bullish analyst note that had Cirrus Logic, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRUS) hitting new highs
  4. What was behind GoPro Inc's (NASDAQ:GPRO) sudden sell-off?
  5. Why Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ:GOOGL) big event may be good news for option traders. 

Quarterly Earnings September 20
Unusual Options Activity September 20
Data courtesy of Trade-Alert

Commodities:

Oil prices finished slightly higher today, as traders continue to consider the possibility of a production freeze at next week's informal Organization of the Petroleum Countries (OPEC) meeting. By the close, November-dated crude -- now the front-month contract --was up 19 cents, or 0.4%, at $44.05 per barrel. 

Gold prices also moved higher, as central bank decisions loom. Gold dated for December closed 40 cents higher at $1,318.20 per ounce. 

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