Stock Futures Inch Higher Ahead of Fed Decision

Fed Chair Powell will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET

Patrick Martin
Mar 20, 2019 at 9:21 AM
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Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) futures are trading cautiously above fair value ahead of the final day of the Fed meeting. While next to no one is expecting an interest rate hike, investors are still keen to hear economic projections from Fed Chair Jerome Powell at a 2:30 p.m. ET press conference. U.S.-China trade talks remain in focus, too, especially after yesterday's Bloomberg report spooked markets just before the close. Elsewhere, oil prices are pulling back, with April-dated crude futures down 1% at $58.46 per barrel. 

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

  • Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White outlines the best stocks for straddle trades.
  • KeyBanc delivered some bad news about GrubHub stock.
  • This under-the-radar software stock could be set to push higher.
  • Plus, General Mills toasts earnings beat; SAGE scores big FDA approval; and FedEx reports dismal quarterly results.

Stock Futures Chart March 20

5 Things You Need to Know Today

  1. The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1.07 million call contracts traded on Tuesday, compared to 620,918 put contracts. The single-session equity put/call ratio rose to 0.58, and the 21-day moving average remained at 0.62.
  2. General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) stock is up 2.5% in electronic trading, after the company's fiscal third-quarter earnings and revenue exceeded analyst expectations. The food manufacturing concern also hiked its fiscal 2019 outlook. As of last night's close at $47.24, GIS had added nearly 30% from its Dec.17 bottom of $36.42.
  3. SAGE Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:SAGE) stock is up 1.7% ahead of the bell, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the company's drug for postpartum depression, the first ever approval of such a treatment. SAGE has added 63% year-to-date, guided higher by its ascending 30-day moving average.
  4. Shares of FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) are down 6% in electronic trading, after the shipping name's fiscal third-quarter earnings and revenue arrived beneath analyst expectations. FDX also cut its full-year profit forecast for a second time in three months. A flurry of bear notes have ensued, including a downgrade to "neutral" from "overweight" at J.P. Morgan Securities, and a price-target cut to $148 from $156 at Morgan Stanley.
  5. Domestic crude inventories will come out today. Guess? (GES) and Micron (MU) will report earnings.

stock market news march 20

Asian Stocks Flat, Europe Digests Brexit Headlines

Stocks in Asia were mostly flat, with questions around trade and the upcoming Fed decision in the U.S. holding back buyers. The positive outlier was Japan’s Nikkei, which managed a 0.2% win despite a slide in shares of Sony and Nintendo following the announcement of Google’s video game streaming service. In China, the Shanghai Composite settled with a 0.01% loss, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.5%. Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi closed with a 0.02% loss. 

The major benchmarks are mostly lower in Europe today, where traders are also considering fresh headlines about British Prime Minister Theresa May preparing to ask for a short extension to the March 29 Brexit deadline. On top of this, a number of economic reports have come out of the U.K., including numbers showing a small rise in inflation for February. For individual names, German pharmaceutical giant Bayer is selling off after another jury found the company’s Roundup weedkiller was responsible for a man’s cancer. At last check, Germany’s DAX was down 1.2%, the French CAC 40 was off 0.1%, and London’s FTSE 100 was clinging to a 0.01% gain. 


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