March 29, 2018: Markets opened higher Thursday and is on track to close higher for the day. But the good news ends there for the blue chippers: for the month of March the Dow 30 will be down about 4% and for the first quarter the index looks headed for a decline of nearly 3%. The S&P 500 index is following the same path while the Nasdaq Composite may hold on to post a 1% gain for the quarter. Markets are closed Friday in observance of Good Friday.
WTI crude oil for May delivery settled at $64.94 a barrel, up 0.9% for the day but down 1.4% for the week. In the first quarter crude added about 7.7%. June gold dropped about 0.2% on the day to settle at $1,327.30. The most active contract closed down 2.1% for the week but remains up 1.4% for the quarter. Equities were headed for a higher close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded up 1.60% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 1.67%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 1.87%.
Bitcoin futures (XBTJ8) for April delivery traded at $7,410, down about 6.1% on the CBOE after opening at $7,880 this morning. The digital currency’s trading range for the day was $7,310 to $7,990.
The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Thursday was Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) which traded up 2.66% at $50.92 in a 52-week range of $33.23 to $53.78. Volume of about 21 million shares was around 40% below the daily average. The company had no specific news.
The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) traded up 2.61% at $328.36. The stock’s 52-week range is $175.47 to $371.60. Volume was about 55% below the daily average of around 6.2 million. The company suffered minimal disruption from a ransomware attack Wednesday.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) traded up 2.39% at $170.46. The stock’s 52-week range is $140.06 to $183.50. Volume was about 35% below the daily average of around 37.5 million shares. The company had no specific news Thursday.
Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) traded up 2.24% at $91.39. The stock’s 52-week range is $64.85 to $97.24. Volume was about equal to the daily average of around 33 million. CEO Satya Nadella has reorganized the software giant around its cloud software business.
Of the Dow stocks, 27 are on track to close higher Thursday and just 3 are set to close lower.