The Dow Propped Up by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer Thursday

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March 8, 2018: Markets opened higher Thursday but all three major indexes visit the downside today before settling above the break-even line. Trade-war fears have eased somewhat, and reports the Canada and Mexico would not be included in the initial round. The report on new claims for unemployment benefits was also encouraging.

WTI crude oil for April delivery settled at $60.12 a barrel, down 1.7% for the day. April gold dropped about 0.4% on the day to settle at $1,321.70. Equities were headed for a higher close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded up 0.02% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.13%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.12%. The Dow dipped from a solid gain about half an hour before the bell and could close with a small loss for the day.

Bitcoin futures (XBTH8) for March delivery traded at $9,320, down about 5.2% on the CBOE after opening at $9,980 this morning. The digital currency’s trading range for the day was $9,070 to $10,140.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Thursday was Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) which traded up 1.77% at $131.33. The stock’s 52-week range is $120.95 to $148.32. Volume was about half the daily average of around 7.8 million. The company had no specific news.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) traded up 1.49% at $36.47. The stock’s 52-week range is $31.67 to $39.43. Volume was about 40% below the daily average of about 23 million. An FDA panel recommended approval of the company’s Xeljanz to treat patients with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis.

McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) traded up 1.20% at $154.21. The stock’s 52-week range is $127.35 to $178.70. Volume was nearly 25% below the daily average of around 4.3 million shares. The company had no specific news.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) traded up 0.94% at $152.93. The stock’s 52-week range is $90.34 to $173.24. Volume was about half the daily average of around 5.9 million shares. The company had no specific news Thursday.

Of the Dow stocks, 22 are on track to close higher Thursday and 8 are set to close lower.