Nike, Exxon Drive the Dow Higher Friday

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June 29, 2018: Markets opened higher Friday and held on to early gains as the closing bell draws near. Financial stocks rallied following the Fed’s announcement on stress tests and the banks’ promises to return cash to shareholders, even if one of the banks got a good break. Every sector traded higher in the late afternoon led by energy and materials.

On the last trading day of the quarter, it looks like the Dow will close up 1.5% for the period but down 1.1% for the first six months of 2018. The S&P 500 will close up around 3.6% for the quarter and 2.4% for the year to date while the Nasdaq Composite is on track for a 7% quarterly gain and 9.5% increase for the first half of the year.

WTI crude oil for August delivery settled at $74.15a barrel, up nearly 1% on the day, 11% for the month, and more than 20% for the first half of 2018. August gold added almost 0.2% to settle at $1,254.50, to end a four-day losing streak. For the week gold dropped 1.3 and posted a monthly drop of 3.8% along with a 5.5% decline for the quarter. For the first half of the year, gold traded down more than 4%. Equities were headed for a higher close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded up 0.67% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.47%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.43%.

Bitcoin futures (XBTN8) for July delivery traded at $5,870, down about 3.3% on the CBOE after opening at $5,950 this morning. The trading range today was $5,755 to $5,950. The contract dropped to a new low since last November.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Friday was Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) which traded up 11.77% at $80.14. The 52-range on the stock is $50.35 to $81.00, and the high was posted this morning. Volume of around 26.7 million was more than four times the daily average of 6.6 million. The company reported solid earnings after the bell Thursday.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) traded up 1.27% at $83.01 in a 52-week range of $72.16 to $89.30. Volume was about 25% below the daily average of around 13.1 million shares. The company had no specific news.

American Express Co. (NYSE: AXP) traded up 1.28% at $98.21. The stock’s 52-week range is $83.33 to $103.24. Volume was about 20% below the daily average of around 3.6 million shares. The company had no specific news.

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) traded up 1.27% at $49.88. The stock’s 52-week range is $33.23 to $57.60. Volume was about 20% below the daily average of around 28 million. The company had no specific news.

Of the Dow stocks, 28 are on track to close higher Friday, and just 2 are set to close lower.