The Dow Staggers to a Loss as Exxon, General Electric Slide

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March 7, 2018: Markets opened lower Wednesday following last night’s announcement that Gary Cohn has resigned as the President’s top economic adviser after losing the battle of steel and aluminum tariffs. The fear among investors and corporate chiefs is that the tariffs presage a more protectionist trade policy in the future.

WTI crude oil for April delivery settled at $61.15 a barrel, down 2.3% for the day following the report on U.S. inventories. April gold dropped about 0.6% on the day to settle at $1,327.60. Equities were headed for a mixed close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded down 0.19% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.07%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.41%. The Dow was making a late run toward the break-even line as we were writing this.

Bitcoin futures (XBTH8) for March delivery traded at $9,800, down about 8.7% on the CBOE after opening at $10,870 this morning. The digital currency’s trading range for the day was $9,370 to $10,900.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Wednesday was Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) which traded down 3.03% at $73.87. The stock’s 52-week range is $73.56 to $89.30, and the low was posted this afternoon. Volume was about 50% above the daily average of around 13.8 million. The company announced an aggressive growth plan this morning that investors are interpreting as a threat to buybacks and dividends.

The Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE: TRV) traded down 1.82% at $138.82. The stock’s 52-week range is $113.76 to $150.55. Volume was about 20% below the daily average of about 1.9 million. The company had no specific news today.

General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) traded down 1.33% at $14.44. The stock’s 52-week range is $13.95 to $30.54. Volume was about 25% below the daily average of around 89 million shares. The company announced a new electric power storage product this morning.

The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) traded down 0.85% at $179.08. The stock’s 52-week range is $144.25 to $207.61. Volume was nearly 30% below the daily average of around 5.4 million shares. The company had no specific news.

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