Nike, Verizon Prop Up DJIA on Thursday

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July 20, 2017: Markets opened higher again Thursday but there was a noticeable lack of enthusiasm as equities traded in a very narrow range all day right around the break-even line. Telecom was the best performing S&P sector while materials and industrials lagged. WTI crude oil for August delivery settled at $46.79 a barrel, down 0.7% on the contract’s expiration date. August gold added 0.3% on the day to settle at $1,245.50. Equities were headed for a narrowly mixed close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded down 0.02% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.08%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.15%.

Stocks 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 loss ahead of the close Thursday was The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) which traded down 3.91% at $147.18. The stock’s 52-week range is $119.20 to $160.86. Volume was nearly four times the daily average of around 4.4 million. The company had no specific news, but reports that Amazon would begin selling Kenmore brand appliances sent some investors fleeing.

The Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE: TRV) traded down 1.47% at $124.60. The stock’s 52-week range is $103.45 to $129.60. Volume was about 10% higher than the daily average of about 1.4 million shares. The company missed earnings estimates this morning.

The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the bell was Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) which traded up 2.08% at $58.97. The stock’s 52-week range is $49.01 to $60.33. Volume was about 20% below the daily average of around 10.4 million shares. The company was upgraded from Equal Weight to Overweight at Morgan Stanley which also raised Nike’s price target from $54 to $68 a share.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) traded up 2.07% at $44.35. The stock’s 52-week range is $42.80 to $56.25. Volume was less than 10% below the daily average of around 15.5 million shares. The company had no specific news.

Of the Dow stocks, 19 are on track to close higher Thursday and 11 are set to close lower.