Walgreens, Walmart Rescue the Dow Monday

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October 8, 2018: Markets opened lower Monday and appeared to be in for a solid loss until around noon. A direction change has returned the Dow and the S&P 500 to around the break-even line. The threat of rising interest rates may have cooled enthusiasm for equities, especially with bond markets closed and who knows what kind of day we’ll see Tuesday when they reopen. Defensive stocks worked their magic today, while the tech and energy sectors lagged.

WTI crude oil for November delivery settled at $74.29 a barrel, less than 0.1% for the day.  December gold dropped about 1.4% to settle at $1,188.60. Equities were heading for a narrowly mixed close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded up 0.27% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.08%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded down 0.52%.

Bitcoin futures (XBTV8) for October delivery traded at $6,620, up about 1.3% on the Cboe after opening at $6,530 this morning. The trading range today was $6,520 to $6,665.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Monday was Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) which traded up 2.57% at $74.38 in a 52-week range of $59.07 to $80.68. Volume was about 25% below the daily average of around 6 million shares.

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) traded up 1.69% at $94.89. The stock’s 52-week range is $79.40 to $109.98. Volume was about 40% lower than the daily average of around 7.2 million. The company announced a video production deal with MGM Studios this morning.

The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) traded up 1.38% at $46.51. The 52-week range on the stock is $41.45 to $48.62. Volume was a little more than half the daily average of around 10 million.

The Travelers Companies Inc. (NYSE: TRV) traded up 1.30% at $131.82. The stock’s 52-week range is $120.74 to $150.55. Volume was about less than half the daily average of around 1.4 million shares.

Of the Dow stocks, 19 were set to close higher Monday and 11 were on track to close lower.