September 1, 2016: Markets opened higher Thursday but the major indexes had little luck holding onto the gains, meager as they were. Energy again was the poorest performing sector with financials not far behind. Friday’s report on non-farm payrolls is expected to show a gain of 175,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 4.8%, down from 4.9% in July. WTI crude oil for October delivery settled at $43.16 a barrel, down 3.5% for the day. December gold closed up 0.4% on the day to settle at $1,317.10. Equities were headed for a mixed close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded down by 0.03% for the day, the S&P 500 traded down 0.13%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.15%. The DJIA could swing back to a tiny gain in the final few minutes of trading Thursday.
The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Thursday was American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) which traded down 1.23% at $64.78. The stock’s 52-week range is $50.27 to $78.40. Volume was about 40% below the daily average of around 4.5 million shares. The company announced a deal with Delta Private Jets yesterday, but it got less attention than a similar deal between Visa and ride-hailing company Uber.
Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) traded down 0.82% at $81.28. The stock’s 52-week range is $56.36 to $84.73. Volume was about 25% below the daily average of around 4.4 million shares. The heavy equipment maker twists in the winds blown by oil prices and the prospect of more exploration for oil.
Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded down 0.64% at $99.94. The stock’s 52-week range is $74.31 to $107.58. Trading volume was about 35% below the daily average of around 6.4 million. The energy supermajor had no specific news, but Thursday’s sharp drop in crude prices hit the Dow stocks hard.
Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) traded down 0.61% at $86.61. The stock’s 52-week range is $71.55 to $95.55. Volume was about 35% below the daily average of around 10.7 million shares. The resemblance to Chevron’s daily performance are not coincidental.
Of the 30 Dow index stocks 15 are on track to close higher Thursday and 15 are set to close lower.