Boeing, Merck Buoy the Dow Wednesday

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May 23, 2018: Markets opened lower Tuesday but got a nice upward jolt following from the release of the FOMC meeting minutes.  While there will be another rate hike next month, the Fed is not particularly worried about overshooting its 2% inflation target. That sent defensive shares higher and took a few basis points off the 10-year Treasury yield.

The Dow and the S&P 500 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 either of the indexes.

WTI crude oil for July delivery closed at $71.84 a barrel, down about 0.5% for the day following a larger-than-expected increase in U.S. crude oil inventories. June gold dropped 0.2% on the day to settle at $1,289.60. Equities were headed for narrowly higher close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded up 0.05% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.11%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.44%.

Bitcoin futures (XBTM8) for June delivery traded at $7,555, down about 7.7% on the CBOE after opening at $8,090 this morning. The trading range today was $7,455 to $8,105.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Wednesday was The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) which traded up 1.08% at $358.86 in a 52-week range of $183.46 to $371.60. Volume was about 40% below the daily average of around 5.2 million shares. The company had no specific news.

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) traded up 1.03% at $59.05. The stock’s 52-week range is $52.83 to $66.41. Volume was about 35% below the daily average of around 11.4 million shares. The company reported another successful phase III trial for its Keytruda lung cancer drug this morning.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Wednesday was General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) which  traded down about 7.3% at $14.17. The stock’s 52-week range is $12.73 to $29.47. Volume was about 65% above the daily average of around 71 million. The company’s CEO said today that GE can’t guarantee its 2019 dividend because it is still trying to repair the damage from its capital group and its power unit.

The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) traded down about 1% at $103.02. The stock’s 52-week range is $96.20 to $113.19. Volume was about 25% below the daily average of 8 million. The company had no specific news Wednesday, but there are reports that Comcast is preparing an offer for Fox that will beat Disney’s all-stock $50 billion offer.

Of the Dow stocks, 13 are on track to close higher Wednesday and 17 are set to close lower.