Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq traded sharply lower on Thursday. The indexes fell for a second consecutive session. 
  • Federal Reserve officials believe the best way to encourage a steady U.S. economy is to raise interest rates gradually, according to minutes from the central bank's last policy meeting.
  • Textron Inc. (TXT) tumbled 10.5% on Thursday after the aerospace and defense company missed on third-quarter earnings and revenue estimates and issued a downbeat forecast.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks traded sharply lower on Thursday, Oct. 18, after a hawkish set of minutes from last month's Federal Reserve meeting cemented the case for near-term interest rate hikes, pulling U.S. Treasury yields higher. Gold rose as signs of a growing trade war with China added to worries about the pace of global growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 324 points, or 1.3%, to 25,382.37, the S&P 500 declined 1.4%, and the Nasdaq was down 2.1%. The declines today and yesterday mainly wiped the advances made on Tuesday. Tech stocks like Apple Inc. (AAPL) , Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) fell between 2.3% to 3.5%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond was at 3.2%. The Dow, which has fallen in eight of the past 11 trading sessions, is trading about where it was back on January 10. Gold for December delivery rose 0.1% to $1,228.20 an ounce.

Federal Reserve officials believe the best way to encourage a steady U.S. economy is to raise interest rates gradually, according to minutes of the central bank's Sept. 25-26 policy meeting that were released Wednesday. The Fed boosted rates for the third time this year last month to a range of 2.25% to 2.5%, and the minutes from the meeting suggested that Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues won't be swayed by criticism from Donald Trump, who has said the central bank was moving "too fast" to tighten policy and was threatening the health of the U.S. economy.

The Fed said a gradual approach to rate hikes, set against accelerating inflation and robust growth, would "balance the risk of tightening monetary policy too quickly, which could lead to an abrupt slowing in the economy and inflation moving below the committee's objective, against the risk of moving too slowly, which could engender inflation persistently above the objective and possibly contribute to a buildup of financial imbalances."

A tweet from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying he wouldn't be attending an upcoming investment conference in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi also dented sentiment.

Textron Inc. (TXT) tumbled 11.3% on Thursday after the aerospace and defense company missed on third-quarter earnings and revenue estimates and issued a downbeat forecast.

Danaher Corp. (DHR) reported third-quarter profit of $1.10 a share, beating analysts' estimates of $1.08. The science and medical technology company said it expects fiscal 2018 adjusted earnings of $4.49 to $4.52 a share. Analysts were calling for $4.49. The stock was down 3.5%.

Travelers Cos. (TRV) reported Thursday third-quarter core earnings of $2.54 a share, topping forecasts of $2.26. Net written premiums in the quarter rose 6% to $7.06 billion and beat expectations. Shares fell 1%.

American Express Co. (AXP)  and PayPal Holdings Inc. (PYPL)  are expected to issue earnings reports after Thursday's closing bell.

Textron, Danaher and PayPal are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stocks? Learn more now.

Novartis AG (NVS) reached an agreement to buy Endocyte Inc. (ECYT) for $2.1 billion.

The deal values the developer of cancer treatments at $24 a share, a 54% premium to Endocyte's closing price of $15.56 on Wednesday. Endocyte shares soared 50.4% on Thursday to $23.45.

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