Microsoft, UnitedHealth Lead DJIA Higher Friday

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December 8, 2017: Markets opened higher Friday following a very solid report on non-farm payroll gains. Next week’s FOMC meeting is expected to raise the federal funds rate again. Telecom and healthcare were sector leaders today while materials and defensive stocks lagged. WTI crude oil for January delivery settled at $57.36 a barrel, up 1.2% for the day but down about 1.7% for the week. February gold dropped 0.4% on the day to settle at $1,248.40, down 2.6% for the week. Equities were headed for a higher close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded up 0.37% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.44%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.37%.

The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Friday was Microsoft Inc. (NASDAQ: MSFT) which traded up 2.07% at $84.20. The stock’s 52-week range is $61.13 to $86.20. Volume was about 10% lower than the daily average of around 20.5 million shares. The company had no specific news.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) traded up 1.60% at $223.68. The stock’s 52-week range is $156.09 to $231.77. Volume was about half the daily average of around 3 million shares. The company announced Thursday that it is buying the medical group business of DaVita Inc.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) traded up 1.31% at $51.08. The stock’s 52-week range is $42.80 to $54.83. Volume was about about half the daily average of around 16.6 million shares. The telecom giant had no specific news.

The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) traded up 1.24% at $285.47. The stock’s 52-week range is $153.06 to $287.30. The high was posted this morning. Volume was about equal to the daily average of around 3.2 million. The company had no specific news.

Of the Dow stocks, 21 are on track to close higher Friday and 9 are set to close lower.