Nike, Caterpillar Underpin DJIA on Wednesday

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October 4, 2017: Markets opened mixed Wednesday as traders might be taking a breather after all the record-setting highs. Now may also be a good time to just sit tight and wait for Friday’s report on the employment situation. Safe sectors utilities and real estate posted the day’s best gains while energy lagged following the EIA report showing a massive increase in crude oil exports last week. WTI crude oil for November delivery settled at $49.98 a barrel, down 0.9% on the day. December gold added 0.2% on the day to settle at $1,276.80. Equities were headed for a narrowly higher close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded up 0.04% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.10%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.02%.

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

The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Wednesday was Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) which traded up 1.22% at $52.10. The stock’s 52-week range is $49.01 to $60.53. Volume was about 35% below the daily average of around 8.6 million. The athletic gear maker had no specific news.

3M Company (NYSE: MMM) traded up 0.89% at $216.47. The stock’s 52-week range is $163.85 to $216.92, a new high set today. Volume was about 40% below the daily average of around 1.7 million shares. The company had no specific news.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) traded up 0.87% at $126.60. The stock’s 52-week range is $80.33 to $127.09, a new 52-week high posted today. Volume was about 35% below the daily average of around 3.4 million shares. The company had no specific news today, but an analyst who is typically bearish on the stock said that the market for the company’s heavy equipment may be recovering.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) traded up 0.81% at $200.24. The stock’s 52-week range is $133.03 to $200.76. Volume was about 30% below the daily average of around 2.6 million shares. The company had no specific news.

Of the Dow stocks, 15 are on track to close higher Wednesday and 15 are set to close lower.