The stock markets in the United States declined today. Investors are becoming increasingly concern regarding the possibility that the Federal Reserve is close to making a decision to increase interest rates.

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Concerns regarding the interest rate hike reignited after the Department of Labor reported a continued improvement in the labor market. The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 5.5% last month.

Richard Fisher, president of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas recently stated that the central bank must start a gradual increase in interest rates before reaching the economy reaches full employment to prevent triggering a recession.

Investors are also concern regarding the continued strengthening of the U.S. dollar against the euro. In fact, the U.S. dollar rallied against 14 major currencies this year.

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In a telephone interview with Bloomberg, Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities said, “A continuation of dollar strength and euro destruction is certainly raising some concerns. I don’t think there was any one specific event or item that caused this, but the fact that it’s a trend that’s been going on for the last several weeks is concerning given the levels we’re at now.”

On the other hand, Jim Paulsen, an investment strategist at Wells Capital Management commented, “The dollar’s going up so much so fast you wonder what it does to U.S. economic growth down the road, to profitability.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 17,662.94 (-1.85%)
  • S&P 500- 2,044.16 (-1.70%)
  • NASDAQ- 4,859.80 (-1.67%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,208.71 (-1.22%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,567.25 (-1.19%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,702.84 (-2.52%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 11,500.38 (-0.71%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 18,665.11 (-0.67%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 23,896.98 (-0.94%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,520.81 (-0.48%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of ACADIA Pharmaceuticals surged almost 18% to $45.92 per share, the biggest gainer on NASDAQ today. Needham analyst Alan Carr recently reiterated his Buy rating for the stock.  The company gained more than 68% in stock value over the past year.

Escalera Resources formerly known as Double Eagle Petroleum suffered the most decline on NASDAQ today. The shares of the energy company plummeted nearly 54% to $8.13 per share. The company announced its decision to cancel its dividend for its Series A Cumulative Preferred Stock to preserve its cash resources.

The shares of Urban Outfitters gained almost 12% to $44.06 per share driven its better-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter. The company posted a 12% increase in net sales to $1.01 billion, which is in line with the estimate of Wall Street analysts. Its earnings were $0.60 per share, higher than the $0.58 per share consensus estimate.

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