Boeing, Cisco Prop Up the Dow Thursday

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May 3, 2018: Markets opened lower again Thursday but much of the early loss was recovered and it looks like equities will end the day right around the break-even line. Traders are paying attention to U.S. trade talks with China, possible inflation, bond rates, the nuclear agreement with Iran, and earnings. With so much going on it’s not hard to see why markets are reluctant to plot a course in either direction.

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.

WTI crude oil for June delivery settled at $68.43 a barrel, up 0.7% for the day. June gold added about about 0.5% on the day to settle at $1,312.70.  Equities were headed for a lowerclose about 10 minutes before the bell as the Dow traded up 0.11% for the day, the S&P 500 traded down 0.27%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded down 0.15%.

Bitcoin futures (XBTK8) for May delivery traded at $9,700, up about 6.4% on the CBOE after opening at $9,250 this morning. The digital currency’s trading range for the day was $9,180 to $9,800. Goldman Sachs is within weeks of launching its own trading desk in virtual currencies, including bitcoin.

The Dow stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Thursday was The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) which traded up 2.51% at $332.34 in a 52-week range of $175.47 to $371.60. Volume of about 5.5 million shares was about 5% below the daily average. The company had no specific news.

Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) traded up 1.84% at $44.67. The stock’s 52-week range is $30.36 to $46.16. Volume was about 30% lower than the daily average of around 29 million shares. The company acquired an AI company on Tuesday for $270 million in cash and announced this morning that it had sold another $73 million worth of VMware stock in the first quarter of this year.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) traded up 1.00% at $94.55. The stock’s 52-week range is $67.14 to $97.90. Volume was nearly 30% below the daily average of around 34.6 million. The company had no specific news. The company said today that sales of its Xbox One console are up 15% compared with 2017 sales for the same period.

3M Company (NYSE: MMM) traded up 0.8% at $196.10. The stock’s 52-week range is $191.44 to $259.77. Volume was about 15% below the daily average of around 3 million. The company had no specific news Thursday.

Of the Dow stocks, 12 are on track to close higher Thursday and 18 are set to close lower.

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