Closing Bell: LIVE MARKETS BLOG

 | Feb 22, 2018 | 4:04 PM EST
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Closing Bell:

The major indices fell from their session highs to close the day on a mixed note as the Nasdaq was the lone major index to close the day in the red. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.66%, or 165 points, to 24,962, while the S&P 500 gained 0.1%, or 3 points, to 2,703. The Nasdaq fell 0.1%. or 8 points, to 7,210. 


Uber to Increase Investment in Southeast Asia

Uber has heard the chatter about its intentions to pull back from Asia and it is responding by doubling down on its intentions.

The company plans to "invest aggressively" in marketing and subsidies in Southeast Asia, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told a crowd in India, according to Reuters.

The company said it would invest so aggressively that it expects to lose money in the region. "Right now the plan for Southeast Asia is to go forward, lean forward and to invest," he said.

Last week, CNBC reported that the company was going to sell its Southeast Asia business to rival Grab, which is currently valued at $6 billion.

It is estimated that Uber generated revenue above $5 billion in Southeast Asia last year, but the company still lost money in the region. The ride-hailing market in Asia has quadrupled over the past three years and is expected to top $20 billion in 2025.


Gun Stocks Climb as President Tweets About New Regulations

Savvy investors know that any talk of gun regulation usually results in a run on buying the weapons by enthusiasts who fear that their rights may be infringed upon. 

Thursday was no different as gun maker Sturm, Ruger & Co. (RGR) rose 4.75% and American Outdoor Brands Co. (AOBC) climbed 3.6%. 

Thursday President Trump, who has been vocal about his pro-gun stance in the past, tweeted about raising the minimum age for people to buy certain guns to 21. 

I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue - I hope!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018

U.S. Jobless Claims Reach 45-Year Low

Initial jobless claims in the U.S. fell by 7,000 to 222,000 in the week ending February 17, the second-lowest level since the end of the recession. Economists were expecting total claims of 230,000, according to MarketWatch

The monthly average of claims fell by 2,250 to 226,000 while the number of people collecting unemployment benefits fell by 73,000 to 1.88 million.


Amazon Could Open As Many as 6 More Amazon Go Stores This Year

Amazon (AMZN) plans to open as many as six more cashier-less Amazon Go stores this year, sources to Recode

The new locations are likely to join the original Amazon Go in Seattle, where the company is headquartered. However, the company has held talks with billionaire developer Rick Caruso to bringing an Amazon Go store to Los Angeles, Recode reported. 

The Amazon Go store in Seattle does not have cashiers but does employ workers who prepare fresh food and meals. 


James Bullard Warns Against Too Many Rate Hikes This Year

The Federal Reserve is on pace to raise rates multiple times this year, but St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard warned against raising rates too many times this year. 

The Fed, which raised rates three times in 2017, is expected to increase the interest rate by at least 1% this year. 

"The idea that we need to go 100 basis points in 2018, that seems like a lot to me," Bullard told CNBC. "Everything would have to go just right. The economy would have to surprise on the upside a bunch of times during the year. I'm not sure that's a good way to think about 2018."


Southwest to Charge for Priority Boarding

Southwest Airlines (LUV) , famous for not assigning seats, will now charge up to $50 one way for passengers who want to be the first to board their planes. 

The company first introduced upgraded boarding in 2013 charging $40 per person each way. Southwest then added a cheaper $30 option in 2015. 


Reports Are that Toys R Us Will Close 200 More Stores

Struggling toy retailer Toys R Us is reportedly going to close another 200 stores and make more staff changes, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. 

The company will be holding a staff meeting today at its headquarters in New Jersey, the North Jersey Record reported. A year ago this week the company laid off 250 employees at its corporate HQ, representing about 15% of its staff. 

Toys R Us closed approximately 170 stores in the U.S. after filing for bankruptcy protection in September. 


Barclays to More Than Double Dividend

British bank Barclays PLC (BCS) announced that it will more than double its dividend to 6.5 pence a share from 3 pence a share, bringing the dividend back to where it was two years ago before it was cut to fund a restructuring plan. 

The increase comes after the lender swung to a loss of $2.64 billion in 2017 after posing a profit above $3 billion the year before. 

The bank says that it has completed its restructuring plans two years after the process began. Barclays shares were up 4.6% in premarket trading. 


Premarket

U.S. futures were pointing to a higher opening for markets after spending most of the morning in negative territory. 

Futures reversed course a couple of hours before the opening bell with Dow futures rising 0.1%, while Nasdaq futures rose 0.2% and S&P futures gained 0.3%. 

World markets were looking shaky Thursday with the Nikkei and Hang Seng falling 1.07% and 1.48% respectively. The Shanghai Composite closed the day up more than 2%. 

In Europe, the major markets were falling across the board led by the FTSE 100 which was down 0.84% with about four hours left in trading. 

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