Dow Higher at Midday as Fed Meeting Kicks Off

Wall Street is expecting a rate hike tomorrow

Managing Editor
Mar 20, 2018 at 12:05 PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) is higher at midday, just as the two-day Fed monetary policy meeting kicks off. While the central bankers won't emerge until tomorrow, Wall Street is expecting new Fed Chair Jerome Powell to announce a rate hike. Oil prices, meanwhile, are lifting energy stocks, with front-month crude up 2.4% at $63.55 per barrel. However, the S&P 500 Index (SPX) and Nasdaq Composite (IXIC) are only modestly higher, and briefly flirted with negative territory, as Facebook (FB) continues to weigh on tech stocks. Shares of the social media concern are dropping amid reports the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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

Midday Market Stats March 20

Joining the list of stocks with unusual options volume today is tech concern Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL), with roughly 53,000 put contracts traded --  22 times what's typically seen at this point in the day. Most of the action is attributable to post-earnings activity at the April 45 put, with an emphasis on selling activity. At last check, ORCL stock was 9.4% lower to trade at $47.18, testing support at its 320-day moving average.

Daily Chart of ORCL with 320 MA

The top performer on the Nasdaq today is biotech concern Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARNA). Shares of ARNA are up 34.6% at $41.57, and earlier peaked at $44.44 -- within a stone's throw of their March 5 two-year high -- after the firm reported upbeat data on its chronic bowel disease treatment. As such, analysts at Cantor Fitzgerald and Leerink upped their price targets on ARNA to $64 and $63, respectively.

One of the worst performers on the Nasdaq today is drug stock Arcadia Biosciences Inc (NASDAQ:RKDA). The pullback comes as traders react to the company's new chief commercial officer, just one day after the pharma concern launched its GoodWheat brand. In reaction, overbought RKDA stock was down 8% at $42.26, at last check.

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