Closing Bell: LIVE MARKETS BLOG

 | Feb 21, 2018 | 4:08 PM EST
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Closing Bell

The major U.S. indices saw a return to volatility Wednesday, resulting in all three major averages falling in trading during the session.

Markets started a losing streak Wednesday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.67%, or 167 points, to 24,798, while the Nasdaq fell 0.22%, or 16 points, to 7,218, and the S&P 500 fell 0.55%, or 15 points, to 2,701.


Fed Bullish on Economy

The Federal Reserve believes that the economy is on the right track and that the economic growth it has seen has exceeded previous forecasts. 

The bullish comments suggest that the central bank is nearing a decision to increase interest rates once again. Most economists believe that the Fed will do so at least three times this year. 

Officials at the Fed see inflation inching closer to the bank's own 2% goal in the medium-term as the labor market has also strengthened. 


Tops Markets Files for Chapter 11

New York-based supermarket chain Tops Markets announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in White Plains, New York Wednesday. 

The company said that it has $977 million of assets and $1.18 billion in liabilities as of the end of 2017. The company employs more than 14,200 people at its 169 stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. 

The company's current management purchased Tops from Morgan Stanley's private equity arm in 2013, which it acquired from the Dutch retailer Koninklijke in 2007. 


Home Sales Struggle in January

U.S. home sales continued to lag expectations in January after also declining in December, data from the National Association of Realtors revealed. 

Existing home sales declined 3.2% in January for a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million. Year over year, January sales were down 4.8%. 

The data took markets by surprise as pending home sales have risen for the past two months. 

Benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has risen a quarter of a percentage point in recent weeks to 4.22% at the beginning of February from 3.95% at the beginning of January. 


Supreme Court Weakens Protections for Whistleblowers

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only whistleblowers who have come forward to the Securities and Exchange Commission to report stock and investment fraud are eligible for anti-retaliation protections. 

The case was centered around Paul Summers, a former employee for Digital Realty who was fired after he reported violations to senior management at his company, but not the SEC. 

The court ruled that the section of the Dodd-Frank law is clear in defining a whistleblower as anyone "who provides information relating to a violation of the securities laws to the Commission, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote. 


JPMorgan Plans New HQ at Current Tower Site

JPMorgan (JPM) announced plans to tear down its current headquarters on Park Ave in Midtown Manhattan and build a new modern HQ on top of the site. 

The current high rise on 270 Park Avenue was completed in 1961. The new building will house the bank's 15,000 employees and could be between 70 and 75 stories high, sources told Bloomberg

The company's current facility was designed in the 1950's to house about 3,500 employees. 

"We are recommitting ourselves to New York City while also ensuring that we operate in a highly efficient and world-class environment for the 21st century," CEO Jamie Dimon said in a statement. 


3 Cities to Receive 5G Service First

Dallas, Waco and Atlanta will be the first of 12 markets to receive AT&T's T 5G mobile network by the end of the year. 

There have been other so-called 5G network rollouts that failed to meet two criteria: compatibility with the 5G NR standard agreed upon by the industry; and the ability to work on mobile devices.

The rollout is not expected to be as wide-ranging as the current LTE networks and will rely mostly on line of sight. Meaning, people will have to be within range of the 5G access point to connect to the network. 


U.K. Unemployment Rises For First Time in Nearly 2 Years

Unemployment in the U.K. rose by 46,000 in the December quarter from the previous quarter to 1.47 million, marking the first rise in unemployment in the country since the Brexit vote in June 2016. 

As a result, the unemployment rate rose for the first time since February 2016 by 0.1% to 4.4%. That rate is still a historical low in the country. 

In spite of the seemingly bad news, the British economy added 88,000 jobs. The added jobs worked in conjunction with a decline in the number of workers deemed to be inactive. 


Premarket

U.S. futures were showing mixed messages Wednesday ahead of the opening bell, one session after the Dow and S&P 500 snapped their winning streaks.

Dow Jones futures were indicating an open that will be 33 points lower than Tuesday's close, while S&P 500 futures were basically flat. Nasdaq futures were indicating a rise of 0.2%, or 14 points to open the session. 

Asian markets had a strong session, with all three major indices closing the day in the green. The Hang Seng led the way, rising 1.8% in the session while the Nikkei gained 0.21% and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.45%. 

In Europe, the FTSE 100 was the lone major average trading in the green. The DAX was down 0.6% and the CAC 40 fell 0.22%. 

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