Exxon, Caterpillar Weigh on the Dow Friday

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April 27, 2018: Markets opened higher again Friday but spent much of the day searching for direction. None of the three major indexes has strayed far from the break-even line. Big tech earnings posted last night couldn’t overcome investor wariness over a lower first reading of Q1 GDP and decided to play defense today.

WTI crude oil for June delivery settled at $68.10 a barrel, down 0.1% for the day and down about 0.8% on the day. June gold added about 0.4% on the day to settle at $1,323.40 but closed the week down 1.1%. Equities were headed for a narrowly mixed close about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded down about 0.03% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.14%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.09%.

Equity indexes traded very near the break-even line just minutes before the closing bell. The closing tally could show either a small gain or a small loss for any of the indexes.

Bitcoin futures (XBTK8) for May delivery traded at $9,190, up about 1.1% on the CBOE after opening at $9,120 this morning. The digital currency’s trading range for the day was $9,120 to $9,400.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Friday was Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) which traded up 3.69% at $51.60 in a 52-week range of $42.80 to $54.77. Volume of about 19.8 million shares was about 25% above the daily average. The company had no specific news, but another report of a possible merger between Sprint and T-Mobile means less competition for Verizon and AT&T.

Nike Inc. (NYSE: N) traded up 2.34% at $69.64. The stock’s 52-week range is $50.35 to $70.25. Volume was about 15% below the daily average of around 8 million shares. The company appointed a new chief diversity officer and got a price target boost from analysts at HSBC.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Friday was Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) which traded down 3.80% at $77.78. The stock’s 52-week range is $72.16 to $89.30. Volume was about 30% below the daily average of around 16.4million. The company announced disappointing earnings this morning.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) traded down 1.21% at $144.54. The stock’s 52-week range is $97.74 to $173.24. Volume was about half the daily average of around 6.2 million. The company had no specific news Friday.

Of the Dow stocks, 14 are on track to close higher Friday and 16 are set to close lower.

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