Exxon, Chevron Lift the Dow Wednesday

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May 30, 2018: Markets opened higher Wednesday primarily a result of reports that OPEC was not going to increase production any time soon. The second estimate of GDP growth was a bit lower than expected but it did put a cap on inflation worries. The energy sector notched a 3% gain as stocks in every sector look ready to close the day in the green.

WTI crude oil for July delivery closed at $68.21 a barrel, up about 2.2% for the day. August gold added about 0.2% on the day to settle at $1,306.50. Equities were headed for a higher close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded up 1.28% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 1.28%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.92%.

Bitcoin futures (XBTM8) for June delivery traded at $7,295, down about 2.7% on the CBOE after opening at $7,495 this morning. The trading range today was $7,275 to $7,605.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Wednesday was Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) which traded up 3.85% at $81.44 in a 52-week range of $72.16 to $89.30. Volume was about 15% below the daily average of around 14.7 million shares. The energy giant got an upgrade to Outperform and $10 boost to its former $90 price target from RBC Capital Markets this morning. Then the price of oil went up.

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) traded up 3.13% at $125.19. The stock’s 52-week range is $102.55 to $133.88. Volume was about 15% below the daily average of around 6.8 million. The company told shareholders at its annual meeting today that 2017 was a great year and that 2018 shapes up as another winner. And then oil prices rose.

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) traded up 2.29% at $59.74. The stock’s 52-week range is $52.83 to $66.41. Volume was about 30% below the daily average of around 11.3 million. The company had no specific news Tuesday.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) traded up 2.08% at $108.14. The stock’s 52-week range is $81.64 to $119.33. Volume was about equal to the daily average of around 14.5 million shares. The bank had no specific news, but the Fed this afternoon proposed revisions to the Volcker rule that would make trading easier for big bankswitt.

Of the Dow stocks, 27 are on track to close higher Wednesday and 3 are set to close lower.