October 31, 2016: Markets opened higher Monday with all eyes on this week’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and next week’s national elections. No one expects the FOMC to change rates at this meeting, primarily because that might have some impact on the upcoming elections. There was some merger activity announced this morning, but nothing really on the scale of the last couple of weeks. Counter-cyclical sectors real-estate and utilities propped up equity markets while the energy sector was the big weight. WTI crude oil for December delivery settled at $46.46 a barrel, down 3.8% for the day, the lowest closing price in a month. December gold dropped 0.2% on the day to settle at $1,274.30. Equities were headed for a mixed close before the bell as the DJIA traded down 0.01% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.08%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.08%. None of the indexes is more than a fraction of a point away from the break-even line, so the day’s final score could be different from what we’re seeing now.
The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Monday was Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) which traded down 3.56% at $50.17. The stock’s 52-week range is $75.33 to $107.58. Trading volume was more than 50% higher than the daily average of around 9.1 million. The athletic gear maker’s stock was downgraded this morning at BofA/Merrill Lynch.
Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) traded down 1.62% at $83.40. The stock’s 52-week range is $71.55 to $95.55. Volume of more than 11 million was about 10% above the daily average of around 10 million shares. The weak earnings announcement last week combined with Monday’s drop in crude prices hit the company hard again.
The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) traded down 1.25% at $92.68. The stock’s 52-week range is $86.25 to $120.65. Volume was about 10% below the daily average of around 7.5 million shares. The company had no specific news Monday.
The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) traded down 1.23% at $122.06. The stock’s 52-week range is $109.62 to $139.00. Volume was about 10% below the daily average of around 4.5 million shares. The company’s stock took a downgrade from Piper Jaffray this morning.
Of the 30 Dow index stocks 19 are on track to close higher Monday and 11 are set to close lower.