Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 507 points on Monday following a Wall Street rout on Friday that pushed the blue-chip index into correction territory, or more than 10% below its record high achieved Oct. 3.
  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)  declined 2.7% after officials in Malaysia filed criminal charges against the bank and two of its former employees as part of an investigation into a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal linked to a sovereign wealth fund.
  • Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)  fell 2.9% on Monday following last week's plunge that shaved $40 billion in market value from the consumer brands giant following a report that said the company knew for decades that its iconic baby powder sometimes contained asbestos and failed to alert authorities.

Wall Street Overview 

Stocks declined sharply on Monday, Dec. 17, with investors cautious over the health of the world economy and remaining focused on two key policy events this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 507 points, or 2.1%, to 23,592, at one point falling over 600 points before a modest rebound. The S&P 500 declined 2%, and the Nasdaq slid 2.2%. 

With U.S. stocks having their weakest performance in December in 16 years, the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates Wednesday will be paramount in defining both the final trading days of the year and the broader market tone heading into 2019. Most Fed-watchers expect the central bank to raise rates for the fourth time this year on Wednesday but also will be looking for clues on tightening into next year.

Donald Trump on Monday repeated his recent criticism on the Fed.

It is incredible that with a very strong dollar and virtually no inflation, the outside world blowing up around us, Paris is burning and China way down, the Fed is even considering yet another interest rate hike. Take the Victory!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2018

Meanwhile, slowing growth in China, which was in evidence last week amid the weakest domestic retail sales growth in more than five years in November, likely will form the focal point of President Xi Jinping's speech on the 40th anniversary of China's economic reforms Tuesday, which will be followed-up by a meeting of the government's central-planning working conference later this week.

U.S. stocks got crushed on Friday, Dec. 14, after economic data in China, the world's second-largest economy, were weaker than expected. All three major indices closed Friday's session in correction territory following the rout.

Denting sentiment on Monday was a sharp decline in the Empire State Manufacturing Index which fell to 10.9 in December, the weakest level of 2018. Economists surveyed by FactSet expected a reading of 20.1.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) fell 2.7% Monday after officials in Malaysia filed criminal charges against the bank and two of its former employees as part of an investigation into a multi-billion-dollar corruption scandal linked to a sovereign wealth fund.

Malaysia's attorney general, Tommy Thomas, said he would press for fines that were "well in excess" of the $600 million in fees received by Goldman Sachs, as well as the $2.7 billion that was allegedly misappropriated by 1Malaysia Development Bhd, or 1MDB, the sovereign wealth fund at the heart of the scandal. Two former Goldman Sachs employees, as well as two others connected to 1MDB, will face the criminal charges.

"We believe these charges are misdirected, will vigorously defend them and look forward to the opportunity to present our case," Goldman Sachs said in an emailed statement to TheStreet. "The firm continues to cooperate with all authorities investigating these matters."

Goldman Sachs is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells GS? Learn more now.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)  slumped 3.9% on Monday following last week's move that shaved $40 billion in market value from the consumer brands giant following a report that said the company knew for decades that its iconic baby powder sometimes contained asbestos and failed to alert authorities.

Reuters reported Friday that Johnson & Johnson knew both its raw talc and finished powder tested positive for traces of asbestos, a carcinogen, citing documents linked to a court case that saw a jury in Missouri award $4.7 billion to 22 women who said that the products contained asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson said the story was "one-sided, false and inflammatory" and labelled it "an absurd conspiracy theory."

Johnson & Johnson is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stock? Learn more now.

Best Buy Co. (BBY) fell 3.5% to $53.45 on Monday after analysts at Bank of American Merrill Lynch lowered their rating on the electronics retailer and slashed their price target by nearly 30%.

BAML analyst Curtis Nagle cut Best Buy's rating to "underperform" from "neutral, where he pegged the stock only a month ago, and clipped his price target by $20 a share to $50, citing "deceleration in industry growth trends and continued caution on key product categories such as TVs, Apple products and gaming."

***

Save 66% with our '12 Days of Holiday Deals' Sale. Join Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS club for investors and get our best deal of the year. Click here for details or to sign up.

 

More from Markets

Microsoft Shares Up After Major Health Care Deal With Walgreens

Microsoft Shares Up After Major Health Care Deal With Walgreens

Device Maker Microbot Medical Gives Back Gains

Device Maker Microbot Medical Gives Back Gains

Arconic Shares Rise as Deal Nears for Aerospace Firm

Arconic Shares Rise as Deal Nears for Aerospace Firm

Striking Options: Global Crude Demand and Trade Tariffs

Striking Options: Global Crude Demand and Trade Tariffs

PG&E Stock Slides Another 17%

PG&E Stock Slides Another 17%