Equities rebounded Wednesday despite a batch of Iran-related headlines last night after President Trump sounded a clear, decisive tone on dealing with the republic and as private payroll data for December gave investors hope the economy will remain sturdy in 2020.
- The S&P 500 surged 0.49%
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.56%
- The Nasdaq Composite tacked on 0.67%
- On a day when risk was on, UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH), often viewed as a defensive name, was the Dow’s best-performing name with a gain of 2.09%.
On Tuesday evening, Iran launched missile strikes against U.S. military installations in Iraq. Fortunately, no casualties have been reported and there is some speculation that Iran missed on purpose. Still, those attacks, futile as they may have been, earned a stinging rebuke from the White House with President Trump promising swift retaliation for any attacks that cost American lives and new economic sanctions against Iran. As for the Tuesday night attacks, it appears U.S. forces were more than ready.
“Most of Iran’s missiles are liquid-fueled, which take longer to get ready for launch and are easier to spot. The actual launch is detected by infrared satellites, which can see the plumes and predict the trajectory,” reports CBS News.
In economic news, the ADP private payroll survey showed the addition of 202,000 private sector jobs last month, easily topping the forecast of 150,000 jobs. The Labor Department releases its December jobs report Friday before the open of U.S. markets with economists expecting the addition of 160,000 roles.
In late trading, 23 of the 30 Dow stocks were higher, but Boeing (NYSE:BA) wasn’t one of them. Earlier today, a Boeing 737 passenger operated by a Ukranian airline crashed, killing the 167 passengers and nine crew members aboard, soon after departing the Iranian capital of Tehran.
There is some speculation that this crash was the result of an engine failure, but as the crash occurred in Iranian territory and authorities from that country are in possession of the plane’s black boxes, the world may never know the true cause of this unfortunate accident.
Compounding Boeing’s Wednesday woes, Cowen analyst Cai von Rumohr downgraded the stock to “hold” from “buy” with a new price target of $371, down from $419.
As I noted yesterday, Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA) was scheduled to report earnings this morning and the company did just that. However, investors may have wished the pharmacy operator kept quiet because the report resulted in a 5.84% decline for the stock, by far the worst performance in the Dow Jones today.
Walgreens said it earned $1.37 per share on sales of $34.34 billion, but analyst were expecting earnings of $1.41 a share on revenue of $34.60 billion.
Finally, Some Good News
We’re just a few days into 2020 and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), one of the Dow’s top 2019 performers, hasn’t been mentioned here as of yet, but today is a good time to change that. The stock climbed nearly 1.6%, as Morgan Stanley analyst Keith Weiss reiterated an “outperform” rating on the name with big price target boost to $189 from $157.
“Strong positioning for ramping public cloud adoption, large distribution channels and installed customer base, and improve margins support a path well beyond $1 trillion market cap for Microsoft,” Weiss said in a note to clients.
Charge It Up
Visa (NYSE:V) was also among the top Dow stocks today as MoffettNathanson analyst Lisa Ellis reiterated “buy” ratings on that name and rival Mastercard (NYSE:MA). Her new price target on Visa is $230, implying significant upside to today’s close of just over $192.
Interestingly, Dow component American Express (NYSE:AXP) joined the credit card party, posting a Wednesday gain of almost 2%.
Bottom Line on the Dow Jones Today
It’s not too late for fun and informative historical trends and anecdotes that could be relevant this year. The S&P 500 notched 150 up days last year, a rare occurrence to be sure. In five previous years of that happening, the benchmark U.S. equity gauge finished higher on an annual basis the following year four times, according to Schaeffer’s Investment Research.
Hopefully, that trend repeats in 2020.
As of this writing, Todd Shriber did not own any of the aforementioned securities.