August 20, 2018: Markets opened higher Monday and all three major indexes are pointed at a positive close for the day. Cautious optimism prevails regarding U.S.-China trade talks and geopolitical concerns seem to have taken a back seat even though Venezuela has commenced a major currency revision. Energy was Monday’s top performing sector and utilities was the worst.
WTI crude oil for September delivery settled at $66.43 a barrel, up 0.8% for the day. December gold added 0.9% to settle at $1,194.60. Equities were heading for a higher close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded up 0.43% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.33%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.16%.
Bitcoin futures (XBTU8) for September delivery traded at $6,450, down about 0.4% on the CBOE after opening at $6,475 this morning. The trading range today was $6,360 to $6,505.
The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Monday was Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) which traded up 2.94% at $82.10 in a 52-week range of $50.35 to $82.42. The high was posted today. Volume was about 25% above the daily average of around 6.3 million shares. Piper Jaffray upgraded the stock to Overweight.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) traded up 1.78% at $136.87. The stock’s 52-week range is $118.62 to $148.32. Volume was about equal to the daily average of around 6.5 million shares.
Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) traded up 1.51% at $70.11. The 52-range on the stock is $52.83 to $70.20, and the high was posted today. Volume was about 15% below the daily average of 9.3 million.
The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) traded up 1.29% at $198.09. The stock’s 52-week range is $146.89 to $207.61. Volume was about 45% below the daily average of around 4 million.
Of the Dow stocks, 20 were set to close higher Monday and 10 were on track to close lower.