Closing Bell: LIVE MARKETS BLOG

 | Mar 15, 2018 | 4:24 PM EDT
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Closing Bell

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was the lone major index to close trading in positive territory Thursday while the S&P 500 extended its losing streak.

The Dow rose 0.47%, or 116 points to 24,874, while the Nasdaq dropped 0.2%, or 15 points, to 7,482 and the S&P declined 0.08%, or 2 points, to 2,747. 


Wells Fargo's Timothy Sloan Was Paid $17.4 Million in 2017

Wells Fargo (WFC) paid CEO Timothy Sloan $17.4 million in compensation in 2017 in his first full year running the San Francisco-based bank. 

Sloan had a base salary of $2.4 million with a share-based bonus valued at $15 million. 

Wells Fargo has been the subject of much scrutiny in recent months due to a fraudulent account scandal that prompted comments from congressional leaders. 

Sloan's pay package was the lowest compensation for any of the major U.S. bank executives, but was 36% higher than his total 2016 pay package of $12.83 million. 


FDA Seeks to Cut Amount Nicotine in Cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking Thursday, detailing the agency's intention to reduce smoking rates by lowering the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels. 

The FDA says that its years of attempting to reduce cigarette smoking among Americans have not produced the desired results. Smoking is responsible for the deaths of 480,000 Americans a year and costs $300 billion a year in direct healthcare and lost productivity. 

"We're at a crossroads when it comes to addressing nicotine addiction and smoking in this country - with important new tools to address this devastating public health burden," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said. 

Philip Morris (PM) shares were down 0.54% while British American Tobacco (BTI) declined 0.2%. 


Toys R Us to Honor Giftcards For Next 30 Days

Toys R Us gift cards will lose their value in 30 days, a Toys R Us spokesperson told USA Today Thursday. The toy retailer announced Thursday that it will be liquidating its assets after filing for chapter 11 protection last year. 

The company has been honoring gift cards since it filed in September, but that time is now coming to a close. 

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer weighed in, saying that consumers should be able to redeem the cards for cash. 

"I also ask the FTC to do what it can to ensure that Toys R Us is taking every possible step to honor its existing terms of service for its gift cards," Schumer said. "It is critical that consumers have a full opportunity to take advantage of their gift cards before the stores close."


Goldman Stock Gets Vote of Approval from JP Morgan

Improving market conditions will be a boon for holders of Goldman Sachs (GS) stock, according to a new note from JPMorgan. 

The firm reiterated its "overweight" rating while saying that the company's trading business is on its way back.

"Global Markets business is one of the only EPS upgrade segments we see so far in 1Q 18," analyst Kian Abouhossein. 

Goldman Sachs was up 1.25% to 267.74 in afternoon trading. 


Hasbro, Mattel Stocks Struggle Following Toys R Us Liquidation Announcement

Toys R Us announced that it is liquidating its assets and shutting down Thursday, sending toy makers Mattel (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS) reeling in trading. 

Mattel shares were down 2.3% while Hasbro declined 1.1% as investors wonder how the two companies will make up the $11 billion in annual sales Toys R Us made in its last fiscal year. 

Toys R Us was one of the largest national toy retailers, and without an obvious replacement, investors are worried. 

Toys R Us first filed for chapter 11 protection in September before officially deciding to go out of business today. 


Oil Demand to Increase by 1.5 million bpd in 2018

The International Energy Agency said that it expects U.S. shale production to be offset by global oil demand expected to increase by 1.5 million barrels a day to 99.3 million bpd in 2018. 

The agency previously expected an increase of 1.4 million barrels. 

"The market rebalancing is clearly moving ahead with...supply and demand becoming more closely aligned," the report noted.


U.S. Jobless Claims Matched Expectations Last Week

226,000 Americans filed new jobless benefits claims last week, matching economists consensus expectations for the period. 

Claims dropped by 4,000 week to week for the week ended March 10, according to data from the Labor Department. Data for the prior week were revised by 1,000 fewer applications. 

The current unemployment rate of 4.1% is a 17-year low. 


Amazon Prime Video Numbers Leaked to Press

Amazon Prime Video (AMZN) has about 26 million customers, according to internal documents leaked to Reuters. This is the first time the numbers have been made public. 

The 19 original programs Amazon produces account for as much as a quarter of analyst estimates of Prime sign-ups from late 2014 to early 2017. 

Amazon has spent $5 billion a year for original and licensed content, according to Reuters. One example of the company's return on entertainment investment is Prime's original drama "The Man in the High Castle."

Amazon paid $72 million to produce and market the show, which has about 8 million viewers. The company estimates that the show attracted 1.15 million new subscribers worldwide. 


Google's Decision on Crypto Ads Sends Bitcoin Tumbling

Bitcoin prices were back above the $8,000 threshold after retesting November lows shortly after Google (GOOGL) announced that it was banning advertisements for cryptocurrencies from advertisers who have not been verified by the company. 

Prices dropped by $1,300 Wednesday after Google said that the ban will take effect in June. 

Bitcoin was trading 0.01% lower Thursday morning to $8,189. 


iHeart Files for Chapter 11 Protection

iHeartMedia Inc., the country's largest radio broadcaster, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after reaching an agreement with the principle holders of more than $10 billion of its outstanding debt. 

iHeart said that its day to day business will continue uninterrupted while it sorts out its finances. 

iHeart operates 856 terrestrial stations along with Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings, one of the world's largest billboard companies. 


Premarket

U.S. markets appear headed for another volatile day of trading as futures contracts began falling the closer markets came to the opening bell. 

S&P futures were basically flat while Dow Futures were able to keep a 20% upside. Nasdaq futures were trading in the red slightly ahead of the open. 

In Asia, markets were also mixed, with the Shanghai Composite declining slightly while the Hang Seng rose 0.34% and the Nikkei closed the day up 0.21%.

In Europe, markets were showing strength, led by the CAC 40 in Paris which was rising 0.3% with about 5 hours left in trading. 

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