May 4, 2017: Markets opened higher Thursday following a report that initial claims for jobless benefits fell by more than expected. The high spirits didn’t last long, and by the end of the day the energy had dropped nearly 2% and telecom had dropped nearly 1%. WTI crude oil for June delivery settled at $45.52 a barrel, down 4.8% on the day. June gold dropped 1.6% for the day to settle at $1,228.6, its lowest settlement price in about 7 weeks. Equities were headed for a third consecutive narrow and mixed close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded down 0.05% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.04%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.04%.
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 gain ahead of the close Wednesday was Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) which traded down 2.20% at $99.30. The stock’s 52-week range is $69.04 to $105.98. Volume was about 15% above the daily average of around 5.6 million. The company had no specific news, but low commodity prices are never good for the heavy equipment maker.
Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded down 2.03% at $104.55. The stock’s 52-week range is $97.53 to $119.00. Volume was about equal to the daily average of around 6.3 million shares. Crude prices are at a pre-production cut level and that is not good for Chevron.
Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) traded down 1.35% at $81.58. The stock’s 52-week range is $80.30 to $95.55. Volume was about 10% above the daily average of around 12 million shares. The company had no specific news, but, like Chevron, was hampered by low crude prices.
American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) traded down 0.60% at $78.36. The stock’s 52-week range is $57.15 to $82.00. Volume was about 25% below the daily average of around 4 million shares. The company had no specific news Thursday.
Of the Dow stocks, 12 are on track to close higher Thursday and 18 are set to close lower.