The Dow Slips as McDonald’s, Caterpillar Weigh

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March 2, 2018: Markets opened lower Friday as investors continue to grapple with the possible impact of promised tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The President says he welcomes a trade war but he may be the only one who does. One bit of good news is the final report on consumer sentiment which came in at its second-highest level in 14 years.

WTI crude oil for April delivery settled at $61.25 a barrel, up 0.4% for the day, but down 3.6% for the week. April gold added 1.4% on the day to settle at $1,323.40, but dropped about 0.5% for the week. Equities were headed for a mixed close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded down 0.15% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up0.59%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 1.09%. The Dow may cross the break-even line in the last few minutes of today’s session.

Bitcoin futures (XBTH8) for March delivery traded at $11,040, up about 0.1% on the CBOE after opening at $11,000 this morning. The digital currency’s trading range for the day was $10,770 to $11,220.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Friday was McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) which traded down 4.96% at $147.99. The stock’s 52-week range is $127.34 to $178.70. Volume was more than double the daily average of around 4.1 million shares. The company’s stock was battered following an analyst’s report that he was reducing both his revenue and earnings estimates for the Golden Arches.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) traded down 2.44% at $146.56. The stock’s 52-week range is $90.34 to $173.24. Volume was about 45% above the daily average of around 5.6 million. The company had no specific news but Cat is expected to feel the weight of any tariffs on steel or aluminum, along with retaliatory duties on exports.

The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) traded down 1.46% at $344.58. The stock’s 52-week range is $173.75 to $371.60. Volume was nearly 70% above the daily average of around 5.3 million shares. The company had no specific news Friday, but Boeing is in the same fix as Caterpillar.

The Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE: TRV) traded down 0.73% at $137.95. The stock’s 52-week range is $113.76 to $150.55. Volume was about 20% below the daily average of about 1.8 million. The company had no specific news today.

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

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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.

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.

Today’s four leading gainers account for more than 22% of the Dow’s price-weighted index.