The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Exxon Mobil, Chevron, E. I. du Pont de Nemours, Dow Chemical and Home Depot

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - December 14, 2015 - 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 Exxon Mobil Corp. ( XOM ), Chevron Corp. ( CVX ), E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company ( DD ), Dow Chemical Company ( DOW ) and Home Depot Inc. ( HD ).

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Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Dow 30 Stock Roundup

The Dow declined for the second consecutive week, weighed down by a slump in oil prices . The index declined 0.7%on Monday due to a selloff in energy and material shares. The index suffered losses again on Tuesday after it was dragged down by declines in energy and material shares.

The index dropped for the third consecutive day on Wednesday as oil prices continued to fall, fueling concerns about global economic growth. The blue-chip index rebounded on Thursday, as investors bought beaten-down energy shares. The Dow has declined 1.5% during the first four trading days.

Last Week's Performance

The index declined 0.7% on Monday due to a selloff in energy and material shares. Following OPEC's decision to maintain a production ceiling, U.S. crude stockpiles declined by 1.2 million barrels for the week ending Nov 27, a development which also weighed down on oil prices. Dow components, Exxon Mobil Corp. ( XOM ) and Chevron Corp. ( CVX ), dropped 2.6% and 2.7%, respectively.

On the other hand, airline shares gained due to the fall in oil prices. Weak oil prices had boosted the bottom line of carriers in the past quarters. Meanwhile, in an interview to The Wall Street Journal , Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart expressed his support for an interest rate hike next week.

Additionally, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said that given the low unemployment rate, policymakers have justified a rate hike on "reasonable confidence" that inflation will increase to its desired target of 2%.

The index suffered losses for the second straight day on Tuesday, dropping 0.9% after it was dragged down by declines in energy and material shares. Apart from last Friday's and Monday's developments, U.S. stockpiles have increased for 10 weeks in a row when supplies usually decline at the onset of winter.

Further, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects crude production of 9.33 million barrels a day for this year, up from an earlier estimate of 9.29 million barrels. In a volatile trading session, both the WTI and Brent crude oil closed at their lowest settlement prices since Feb 2009. Dow components, Exxon Mobil and Chevron, dropped 2.8% and 0.9%, respectively.

Meanwhile, disappointing trade data from China raised concerns about a global recession, which in turn negatively impacted demand for commodities. Material stocks took a beating following China's dismal trade data. While China's imports declined for the 13th successive month, its exports fell for the 5th consecutive month.

The index dropped 0.4% on Wednesday as oil prices continued to decline, fueling concerns about global economic growth. Drop in oil prices for the third straight day on Wednesday weighed on investor sentiment. However, the energy sector was able to finish in the green helped by an early rally in oil prices. Exxon Mobil and Chevron each advanced 1.3%.

Meanwhile, the materials sector ended in the green on Wednesday after The Wall Street Journal reported that E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company ( DD ) was in advanced talks to merge with The Dow Chemical Company ( DOW ). Shares of both DuPont and Dow Chemical soared 11.9%

The index rebounded on Thursday, gaining 0.5% as investors bought beaten-down energy shares. Oil prices continued to decline on Thursday following OPEC's report that showed the group raised its production level in November to its highest monthly level in three years. In November, total production increased by 230,100 barrels a day from October, to 31.695 million barrels a day, the highest since Apr 2012. The increase in output levels was mainly driven by increase in production by Iraq.

Last month, Iraq's output increased by 247,500 barrels a day to 4.307 million barrels a day. Iraq's output this year climbed by around 500,000 barrels a day. Iraq has been increasing its production levels to boost the country's economy, which has been impacted by a conflict with Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

However, investors decided to buy beaten-down stocks on Thursday, which helped energy shares end in the green. Gains in energy shares also helped key indexes end with modest gains. Exxon Mobil and Chevron advanced 0.1% and 1.9%, respectively.

Components Moving the Index

DuPont and Dow Chemical are in late-stage talks to combine their businesses, according to The Wall Street Journal . The report said that the companies could announce a merger deal in the coming days, citing people familiar with the matter.

The sources also told the Journal that the merger would be followed by a three-way breakup of the integrated company. The combined company could split into agricultural, material sciences and specialty-products businesses, the sources revealed. Dow's CEO Andrew N. Liver is is expected to be the executive chairman of the combined company. DuPont's CEO Edward Breen is expected to retain his title at the new entity.

The merger, which if it eventually takes place, would create a chemical powerhouse with a combined market value of around $120 billion. The deal would see the union of two top American chemical companies that have been in business for more than a century. It would also rank among the biggest mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deals announced this year, the Journal report noted.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. raised its stake to 10.1% in Telecom Italia S.p.A., an Italian telecommunications company that operates mainly in Europe, the Mediterranean basin and South America, according to a filing by the Italian market regulator Consob.

The overall long position of JPMorgan is held through a previously disclosed stake of 4.5% as well as call options that can be exercised at different dates up to Jul 7, 2017 and other contracts. The position was held as of Nov 26, 2015, when stringent disclosure rules regarding stakes held in listed Italian companies came into play

Home Depot Inc. ( HD ) reiterated its recently updated guidance for fiscal 2015 and unveiled long-term targets for the next three years (through fiscal 2018). The company also revealed that it is on track to reach its growth targets for fiscal 2015 that were laid down in Dec 2013. Consistent with this, the company expects operating margin growth of 13% and return on invested capital (ROIC) of 27% at the end of fiscal 2015.

Through the end of fiscal 2018, Home Depot targets sales of nearly $101 billion, representing a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7%. The company also set an operating margin growth target of 14.5%, while aiming to achieve ROIC of 35% by the end of fiscal 2018.

Further, Home Depot's reaffirmed fiscal 2015 outlook projects sales growth of approximately 5.7%, along with a comparable-store sales increase of nearly 4.9%. Earnings are anticipated to come in at $5.36 per share, up about 14% from the previous fiscal year.

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EXXON MOBIL CRP (XOM): Free Stock Analysis Report

CHEVRON CORP (CVX): Free Stock Analysis Report

DU PONT (EI) DE (DD): Free Stock Analysis Report

DOW CHEMICAL (DOW): Free Stock Analysis Report

HOME DEPOT (HD): 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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