Chevron, Merck Lift DJIA Wednesday

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May 3, 2017: Markets opened lower Wednesday and only the blue-chippers were able to cross, however tentatively, into positive territory. The only S&P sectors heading for gains today are energy, financials, and consumer staples. This afternoon’s announcement from the FOMC had little impact on stocks. WTI crude oil for June delivery settled at $47.88 a barrel, up 0.3% on the day. June gold also dropped 0.7% for the day to settle at $1,248.50, but later recovered slightly in electronic trading. Equities were headed for a second consecutive narrow and mixed close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded up 0.03% for the day, the S&P 500 traded down 0.15%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded down 0.46%.

The DJIA traded very near the break-even line just minutes before the closing bell. The closing tally could finish with either a small gain or a small loss for any or all of the indexes.

The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Wednesday was Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) which traded up 1.49% at $106.93. The stock’s 52-week range is $97.53 to $119.00. Volume was about 30% below the daily average of around 6.3 million shares. The company had no specific news gains but posted a gain on rising crude prices.

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) traded up 1.35% at $63.54. The stock’s 52-week range is $53.06 to $66.80. Volume was about equal to the daily average of around 8.9 million. The company had no specific news.

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) traded up 0.98% at $142.61. The stock’s 52-week range is $110.33 to $142.79. Volume was about equal to the daily average of around 3.8 million shares. The company’s stock was upgraded to Buy with a price target increase from $126 to $153 a share at Goldman Sachs.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) traded up 0.96% at $82.84. The stock’s 52-week range is $80.30 to $95.55. Volume was about 60% below the daily average of around 12 million shares. The company had no specific news.

Of the Dow stocks, 16 are on track to close higher Wednesday and 14 are set to close lower.