Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded higher on Wednesday following three straight days of gains for the blue-chip index.
  • Apple Inc. (AAPL - Get Report) rose 1.7% after CEO Tim Cook insisted the iPhone XR remained its most popular product even as reports suggested the tech giant will slash production for new models this quarter amid slowing demand.
  • Lennar Corp. (LEN - Get Report)  gained 7.9% after two Federal Reserve officials signaled slower 2019 rate hikes, easing pressure on mortgage rates after the nation's second-largest homebuilder reported weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter sales.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks rose for a fourth day on Wednesday, Jan. 9, and global stocks extended gains as investors continued to drive equities higher amid further signs of progress in U.S.-China trade talks.

Officials from the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer added a third day to this week's face-to-face talks in Beijing. Extending the talks to a third day showed both sides were "serious," said China's Foreign Ministry.

U.S. Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Ted McKinney, told reporters the talks went "just fine," adding "it's been a good one for us." China's state-run newspaper, the China Daily, said the government's aim was to find a lasting solution without making "unreasonable concessions" and that "any agreement has to involve give and take from both sides."

The trade talk progress helped lift stocks in Asia to their highest levels since mid-December, with the Nikkei 225 rising 1.1% on Wednesday and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumping 2.3%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 92 points, or 0.39%, to 23,879, the S&P 500 rose 0.41, and the Nasdaq was up 0.87%. Stocks in the U.S. rose for a third straight day on Tuesday, lifted by optimism over the trade talks.

The minutes from the Dec. 18-19 meeting of the Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee lauded the strong state of the U.S. labor market, specifically mentioning low unemployment and job gains.

The Fed reiterated its 2% inflation objective over the medium term while stating that gradual increases in the target range for federal funds will be tied to the expansion of economic activity and continued strength in the labor market. 

The Fed raised rates for the fourth time in 2018 at the meeting but did signal it expects to slow rate hikes in 2019.

Donald Trump's address Tuesday to the nation, in which he called for support for his long-promised border wall - an issue that has prompted the partial shutdown of the federal government - was having little effect on market action.

Apple Inc. (AAPL - Get Report)  rose 1.7% Wednesday after CEO Tim Cook insisted the iPhone XR remained its most popular product even as reports suggested the tech giant will slash production for new models this quarter amid slowing demand.

Matthew Cheslock, equity trader at Virtu Financial, spoke to TheStreet about Apple.

The Nikkei Asian Review reported Wednesday that Apple has asked suppliers to cut production for the iPhone XS and the XS Max, as well as the iPhone XR, by around 10% for the three months ending in March, a reduction it said would take overall iPhone production to between 40 million and 43 million units for Apple's fiscal second quarter. Apple sold around 52.2 million units over the same period last year, but said in its earnings call last November that it would no longer break out iPhones sales data from its broader revenue reporting.

Cook, however, insisted the iPhone XR "has been the most popular iPhone every day, every single day, from when we started shipping, until now."

"I mean, do I want to sell more? Of course I do, of course I'd like to sell more," he told TheStreet's founder, Jim Cramer, on CNBC's "Mad Money" program late Tuesday. "We're working on that. But in terms of the product itself, it's an incredibly innovative product. It has a bunch of advanced technologies in it from the chip with the neural engine to security embedded to an edge-to-edge liquid retina display, the first in the industry, longest battery life ever in an iPhone."

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

J.C. Penney Co. (JCP - Get Report)  rose 9.9% on Wednesday after reporting that same-store sales fell 3.5% during the holiday period and that it would start three preliminary store closures in the spring.

The struggling retailer said it will "initiate three preliminary store closings this spring as part of an ongoing evaluation of its store portfolio occurring over the next few months."

J.C. Penney said it would provide an update on future store closings Feb. 28, when it reports fiscal fourth-quarter results.

Lennar Corp. (LEN - Get Report)  rose 7.9% Wednesday after two Federal Reserve officials signaled slower 2019 rate hikes, easing pressure on mortgage rates after the nation's second largest homebuilder reported weaker-than-expected fourth quarter sales.

Lennar said adjusted earnings for the three months ended in November were $1.96 a share, just ahead of the Wall Street consensus of $1.92. However, while group sales rose 71% to $6.5 billion, and new home deliveries surged 64% to 14,154 units, each missed forecasts of $6.53 billion and 14,185 units, respectively.

"During the fourth quarter, we continued to experience slower sales due to higher home prices and rising mortgage rates, consistent with what we highlighted on our third quarter conference call," said CEO Stuart Miller. "We continue to believe that the housing market is adjusting to a temporary disconnect between sales prices and buyer expectations and that the basic underlying fundamentals of low unemployment, higher wages and low inventory levels remain favorable."

Shares of Constellation Brands Inc. (STZ - Get Report) slid 12.5% on Wednesday after the company announced a significant drop in profit related to its recent investment in Canadian marijuana producer Canopy Growth Corp. (CGC - Get Report) and cut its profit outlook for fiscal 2019.