March 15, 2017: Markets opened higher Wednesday following a boost in oil prices brought on by expectations of a decline in U.S. commercial inventories. The expected decline occurred, and although modest, moved prices even higher. Then the FOMC announced its expected interest rate hike, and equity markets hopped again. Leading sectors were real estate and oil while only financials showed a dip for the day. WTI crude oil for April delivery settled at $48.86 a barrel, up 2.4% on the day. April gold dropped 0.2% on the day to settle at $1,200.70. Equities were headed for a higher close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded up 0.53% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.88%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.80%.
The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Wednesday was Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) which traded up 1.71% at $93.43. The stock’s 52-week range is $69.04 to $99.46. Volume was roughly equal to the daily average of around 5 million shares. The company reached a new 6-year labor agreement with its UAW union late this afternoon.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) traded up 1.67% at $50.19. The stock’s 52-week range is $46.01 to $56.95. Volume was about 40% below the daily average of around 15.2 million shares. The telecom giant renewed a content carriage deal with CBS in a multi-year deal announced this afternoon.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) traded up 1.67% at $171.89. The stock’s 52-week range is $122.22 to $171.97, a new 52-week high posted this afternoon. Volume was about 35% below the daily average of nearly 3.5 million. The company had no specific news.
Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded up 1.44% at $108.90. The stock’s 52-week range is $92.25 to $119.00. Volume was about 10% above the daily average of around 6.2 million shares. The integrated oil & gas company had no specific news.
Of the Dow 30 stocks, 11 are on track to close higher Wednesday and 19 are set to close lower.