March 8, 2017: Markets opened slightly higher Wednesday following the ADP report of a rise of 298,000 jobs last month. If Friday’s federal report on jobs is near that level, an interest rate high becomes a near certainty next week. A massive increase in the U.S. inventory of crude oil sent prices plummeting and left the energy sector as the day’s big loser. WTI crude oil for April delivery settled at $50.28 a barrel, down 5.4% on the day, it’s lowest settlement price of the year to date. April gold dropped 0.6% on the day to settle at $1,209.40. Equities were headed for a mixed close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded down 0.34% for the day, the S&P 500 traded down 0.22%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.06%.
The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Wednesday was Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) which traded down 2.87% at $93.18. The stock’s 52-week range is $69.04 to $99.46. Volume was about 70% above the daily average of around 4.8 million shares. A report commissioned by the federal government has levied tax fraud charges against the company.
Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded down 1.84% at $109.75. The stock’s 52-week range is $89.47 to $119.00. Volume was about equal to the daily average of around 6.2 million shares. The energy giant had no specific news Wednesday.
Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) traded down 1.59% at $81.21. The stock’s 52-week range is $80.76 to $95.55. Volume was about equal to the daily average of around 12 million shares. The company had no news, but the large increase in crude inventories really pounded both Exxon and Chevron this afternoon.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) traded down 0.77% at $49.06. The stock’s 52-week range is $46.01 to $56.95. Volume was about 20% below the daily average of around 15.6 million shares. The telecom giant had no specific news.
Of the Dow 30 stocks, 8 are on track to close higher Wednesday and 22 are set to close lower.