The stock markets in the United States fluctuated and eventually ended the trading session down today. Investors are waiting for some economic data this week to determine the possible decision of the Federal Reserve on interest rates.

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Policymakers are planning to increase the existing interest rates before the end of this year if the country’s economy continues to strengthen. The stock prices of equities in the financial sector gained 1.8% last month driven by investors’ expectations for a December rate hike.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Mark Kepner, an equity trader at Chatham, commented that this is a “fairly big week” as the market will focus on the decision of the European Central Bank (ECB) on Thursday, and the jobs data on Friday.

“The market is looking for a rate hike by the Fed in December and further easing by the ECB, so these are going to be a pivotal two weeks to set us up through the end of the year,” said Kepner.

[drizzle]The ECB is scheduled to hold its last policy meeting for the year on Thursday. There is increasing speculation that the ECB would implement additional measures to improve inflation.

Meanwhile, National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that the Pending Home Sales Index slightly rose 0.2% to 107.7 in October from 107.5 in September.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “In the most competitive metro areas — particularly those in the South and West— affordability concerns remain heightened as low inventory continues to drive up prices” in the housing market.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 17, 721.13 (-0.43%)
  • S&P 500- 2,080.55 (-0.46%)
  • NASDAQ- 5,108.67 (-0.37%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,199.38 (-0.25%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,506.45 (+0.50%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,356.09 (-0.30%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 11,382.23 (+0.78%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 19,747.47 (-0.69%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 21,996.42 (-0.33%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 3,566.41 (+0.26%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of ITC Holdings gained more than 9% to $36.88 per share driven by the report that the company is evaluating strategic alternatives including a sale. ITC Holdings is an independent electricity transmission company in the United States.

Lululemon Athletica declined more than 8% to $47.82 per share. CFBR Capital analyst Susan Anderson downgraded her rating on the stock to Underperform and lowered his price target from $55 to $42 per share.

Computer Sciences Corporation plummeted more than 46% to $31.33 per share. The company completed the spinoff CSRA, its North American public-sector business. CSRA merged with SRA International. It will replace Computer Sciences Corporation in the S&P 500 Index.

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