Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted modest gains Tuesday as shares of 3M Co. (MMM) - Get Report moved higher while Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) - Get Report   and McDonald's Corp. (MCD) - Get Report weighed on the index.
  • Pfizer Inc. (PFE) - Get Report  rose 3% after reporting solid fourth-quarter earnings but issuing weaker-than-expected 2019 guidance.
  • 3M said it was cutting its 2019 earnings outlook but was positioned for a "successful 2019." The stock rose 1.8%.

Wall Street Overview

The Dow closed higher while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq lost ground on Tuesday, Jan. 29, as investors digested a host of corporate earnings reports and a U.S. decision to pursue criminal charges against the chief financial officer of China's biggest tech company. 

The Dept. of Justice move to charge Weng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., came just as China Vice Premier Liu He was set to arrive in Washington for high-level trade talks that both sides hope can push negotiations forward as a March 1 deadline approaches.

"The company denies that it or its subsidiary or affiliate have committed any of the asserted violations of U.S. law set forth in each of the asserted violations," Huawei said in a statement.

Meng, who also is the daughter of the company's founder, was arrested in Canada last month at the request of the U.S. on charges she misled authorities about its business in Iran in order to get around U.S. sanctions. The U.S is seeking to extradite her to face charges in the U.S.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 52 points, or 0.2%, to 24,580, the S&P 500 fell 0.15%, and the Nasdaq dropped 0.8%

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross insisted the charges were "totally separate" from the trade talks. But the timing of the charges could be seen as a major risk to an agreement.  Many U.S. companies have cited slowing China growth as a reason for weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and tepid 2019 profit outlooks.

Investors are monitoring the start of the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the policy-setting arm of the Federal Reserve. The body is expected to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 2.25% to 2.5%, and most economists don't expect a rate hike from the Fed until at least June.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence in January fell to 120.2 from 128.1 the month before according to Conference Board data. That was below economists estimates of 124.9. Economists blamed the 35-day government shutdown, which ended Jan. 25, for the decline.

3M Co. (MMM) - Get Report reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $2.31 a share, beating analysts' expectations of $2.28. But the maker of Scotch tape and Post-it Notes said it was cutting its 2019 earnings outlook to $10.45 to $10.90 a share from previous guidance of $10.60 to $11.05.

The company, however, said it was positioned for a "successful 2019" despite increasing concerns over global demand linked to a slowdown in China.

3M shares rose 1.8%.

Pfizer Inc. (PFE) - Get Report reported solid fourth-quarter earnings but issued weaker-than-expected 2019 guidance as the exclusivity of its key epilepsy treatment Lyrica comes to an end. The stock rose 3%.

Pfizer said earnings for the three months ended in December were 64 cents a share, topping the Wall Street consensus of 63 cents. Revenue was $13.98 billion, up 2% from the fourth quarter of 2017 and ahead of the $13.9 million estimate.

Looking into 2019, however, Pfizer said it expects full-year earnings of between $2.82 and $2.92 a share, notably lower than the Refinitiv forecast of $3.04, and sales in the range of $52 billion to $54 billion.

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) - Get Report earned $1.12 a share on an adjusted basis in the fourth quarter, topping analysts' estimates by 3 cents, as revenue of $34.3 billion came in slightly below forecasts.

The company said fourth-quarter retail postpaid net additions were 1.2 million, including 653,000 phone net additions and 873,000 postpaid smartphone net additions. Fios internet net additions in the quarter were 54,000, beating forecasts of 45,300.

The telecommunications giant said it expects adjusted earnings in 2019 similar to 2018's adjusted profit of $4.71 a share. It added it sees "low single-digit percentage growth in full-year consolidated revenues on a GAAP reported basis." The stock fell 3.5%.

Lockheed Martin Corp.  (LMT) - Get Report posted modestly weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but said its 2019 outlook has improved thanks to demand for its F-35 aircraft. Shares rose 1%.

Earnings reports were expected after Tuesday's closing bell from Apple Inc. (AAPL) - Get Report , Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) - Get Report   Amgen Inc.  (AMGN) - Get Report and eBay Inc. (EBAY) - Get Report .

Shares of AMD fell more than 4% ahead of the report, but were moving higher in after-hours trading.

Amgen beat analyst expectations of $3.27 a share on sales of $5.8 billion, based on a FactSet survey of 19 analysts, but offered cautious guidance, sending shares lower in after-hours trading.

Amgen and Apple are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells the stocks? Learn more now.

PG&E Corp. (PCG) - Get Report filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday as the California utility, the largest in the nation, seeks to manage liabilities that could reach as high as $30 billion related to the state's deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

The stock was up 15.4% on Tuesday to $13.86.

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