The stock markets in the United States fluctuated and eventually ended the trading session with the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 down by 0.71% and 0.44%, respectively. The NASDAQ gained 0.16% while the Russell 2000 climbed 0.27%.

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The markets were negatively impacted by the weakness of equities in the consumer and commodity sectors prior to the decision of the Federal Reserve regarding the increase of interest rates.

Commenting on the market trends, Bruce Bittle, chief investment strategist at RW Baird & Co. told Bloomberg, "Markets have had big daily swings recently, but they haven't gone anywhere. This is simply because of the uncertainty surrounding interest rates in the U.S. and the state of the U.S. economy."

The members of the Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee FOMC started their two-day meeting today. They are expected to debate on the timing of the interest rate hike based on the current economic condition of the country. The Federal Reserve is expected to remove the term "patient" in describing its position on raising interest rates.

Today, the Department of Commerce reported that the number of housing starts declined 17% to 897,000 on February, the highest decline since 2011. The number is lower than the 1.04 million housing starts estimated by economists polled by Bloomberg.

Other recent economic data such as retail sales, consumer sentiment, production and orders also dropped except the labor market, which showed a continued improvement last month. The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 5.5%.

U.S. Markets
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA - 17,849.01 -0.71%
  • S&P 500- 2,074.20 -0.34%
  • NASDAQ- 4,937.43 +0.16%
  • Russell 2000- 1,243.13 +0.27%

European Markets
  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,672.16 -0.93%
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,837.61 +0.49%
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 11,980.85 -1.54%

Asia-Pacific Markets
  • Nikkei 225- 19,437.00 +0.99%
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 23,901.49 +0.99%
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,757.12 +2.43%

Stocks in Focus

Apple climbed 1.67% to $127.04 per share on the report that the tech giant plans to start accepting Android-based and other devices for trade-ins to increase its gains in the smartphone market. During the fourth quarter last year, Apple beat Samsung as the king of the smartphone market.

The stock price of American Airlines Group increased almost 7% to $53.69nper share today. The stock benefited from its inclusion to the S&P 500 index. Its CEO Doug Parker said, "With over $40 billion of revenue a year, over $4 billion in profits - the largest airline in the world, we certainly knew it would be in the S&P 500 at some point in time." Parker added that the inclusion of American Airline in the S&P is earlier than expected, and it is good news for shareholders.

The shares of Macerich closed $91.60 per share, down by more than 3.47% today. The stock declined due to its announcement that its board of directors unanimously rejected the takeover proposal of Simon Property Group for $91 per share in cash and stock. The board believes that the offer substantially undervalues the company, and it is not in the best interest of shareholders.
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-By Marie Cabural