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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: UnitedHealth Group, NIKE, Johnson & Johnson and Wal-Mart Stores

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - October 19, 2015 - Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the UnitedHealth Group Inc. ( UNH ), NIKE, Inc. ( NKE ), Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ ) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ( WMT ).

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Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Dow 30 Stock Roundup

The Dow experienced a mixed week but still hit its highest level since Aug 19 on Thursday. The blue-chip index gained on Monday as gains in utilities sector offset slump in energy shares. The Dow lost on Tuesday following weak economic data out of China and slump in biotech stocks.

The blue-chip index declined on Wednesday following weak domestic economic data. The blue-chip index jumped on Thursday following strong gains in financial stocks and easing rate hike fears. The Dow has gained 1.3% during the first four trading days.

Last Week's Performance

The Dow gained nearly 0.3% on Monday as gains in utilities sector offset slump in energy shares. Reduced rate hike possibility in October's meeting following September's Fed minutes that released last Thursday and several statements from the Fed officials over the past few days continued to cheer investors. The Dow ended in the green for seven-consecutive day, its longest winning stretch since December 2014.

On Monday, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart indicated that there is a possibility of a rate hike in October's meeting but the Fed may also consider waiting til December's meeting as there will be lot more data compared to that in October. Other important Fed officials including William Dudley, president of Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Chicago Fed President Charles Evans also signaled that the Fed may look for further improvement in overall economic environment before considering a rate hike.

Easing rate hike fears had a positive impact on utilities stocks. Moreover, shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. ( UNH ) and NIKE, Inc. ( NKE ) that rose 2.7% and 1.2%, respectively, played an important role in boosting the Dow to end in positive territory. UnitedHealth was the best performer among the Dow components. These gains helped to offset losses from energy stocks, which declined following a slump in oil prices .

The blue-chip index lost 0.3% on Tuesday following weak economic data out of China and slump in biotech stocks. The country's imports plunged by wider-than-anticipated rate of 20.4% in September form the year-ago level, compared to a decline of 13.8% in August.

Exports decreased 3.7% last month, preceded by a drop of 5.5% in August. Speculations arose that weak global demand is weighing on China's trade numbers and may not be able to achieve the country's targeted annual growth rate of 7% this year.

Moreover, another drop in oil prices weighed on energy shares. Meanwhile, mixed third quarter results from Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ ) raised concerns about the earnings growth in third quarter earnings season. The Dow snapped its seven days winning streak, which was the longest since last December.

The Dow declined 0.9% on Wednesday following disappointing outlook from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. ( WMT ) and weak domestic economic data. Shares of Wal-Mart Stores plunged 10% after anticipating sales in current fiscal 2016 year would remain unchanged due to unfavorable currency impact.

Slump in gasoline prices dragged down PPI by a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.5% in September. Additionally, retail sales increased just 0.1% in September. Excluding auto sales, retail sales witnessed a decline of 0.3% last month, wider than the consensus estimate of a 0.1% drop. Additionally, The Fed's Beige Book stated that manufacturing conditions remained weak through mid-August through Oct 5.

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UNITEDHEALTH GP (UNH): Free Stock Analysis Report

NIKE INC-B (NKE): Free Stock Analysis Report

JOHNSON & JOHNS (JNJ): Free Stock Analysis Report

WAL-MART STORES (WMT): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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