US stocks climb as strong economic data bolster sentiment ahead of Powell speech

U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, with major benchmarks heading for back-to-back gains after a string of strong economic data as investors awaited news from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Friday.

How Stocks Trade
  • S&P500
    SPX

    rose 42 points, or 1%, to 4,183.

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average
    DJIA

    advanced 150 points, or 0.5%, to 33,116.

  • Nasdaq Compound
    COMP

    advanced 169 points, or 1.4%, to 12,600.

On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 60 points, or 0.18%, to 32969, the S&P 500 rose 12 points, or 0.29%, to 4141, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 50 points, or 0.41%, to 12,432. The S&P 500 is up 12.9% from its mid-June low, but remains down 13.1% year-to-date.

What drives the markets?

U.S. stocks were mostly higher on Thursday after revised readings on the performance of the U.S. and German economies in the second quarter, as well as news from more fiscal stimulus from China.

A revised reading of second-quarter gross domestic product showed Germany the economy grew 0.1% in the second quarter, which was better than economists expected. Meanwhile, in the United States, the first revision of second quarter GDP the figures showed the economy shrank just 0.6%, better than the 0.9% contraction from the initial reading.

See: GDP fell 0.6% year-on-year in the second quarter, but it wasn’t all bad news

Eric Diton, chairman and chief executive of the Wealth Alliance, said U.S. stocks had good reason to celebrate the latest second-quarter GDP reading.

“The underlying data is not showing a recession, and that’s pretty ideal for this market because this market is praying for a soft landing,” Diton said.

Stocks are also facing low trading volume, which has helped exaggerate market swings. Wednesday’s session saw just 8.8 billion shares traded across Wall Street’s various exchanges. This is the lowest volume so far this year and a 26% decline from the 2022 daily average, according to Dow Jones data.

Market strategists blamed the low trading volume on seasonal factors, as well as some investors’ reluctance to make bold bets before Powell spoke at the Kansas City Fed’s annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole on Friday. , Wyo.

Investors will dissect Powell’s comments for clues about the Fed’s policy direction, an issue that has largely determined the market’s trajectory of late.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and market analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said “the jitters that swept through the indexes earlier in the week have been brought under control. The expectation that the US Federal Reserve will continue to raise rates to fight inflation has already been priced in to some extent.”

The market got another taste of the Fed speech on Thursday when Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said he would like to see the Fed raise its benchmark target rate north of 3.4% and then let it “rest for a while.”

In other economic news, the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week fell to a one-month low of 243,000, indicating layoffs remain near record lows.

See: Unemployment claims fall to one-month low of 243,000 with no signs of rising layoffs

Investors were also grappling with a decidedly mixed bag of earnings reports from a handful of tech companies released after Wednesday’s closing bell. Shares in Selling power
RCMP

fell by nearly 7% while Snowflake
SNOW,

on the other hand, rose more than 16% after its figures and forecasts were well received.

Meanwhile, Tesla Inc.
TSLA

the shares traded slightly lower, erasing their earnings from the pre-market session, as a stock split took effect at the opening. The electric vehicle maker’s board of directors approved the 3-for-1 split on Aug. 5.

Actions in the spotlight
  • Nvidia Corporation
    NVDA

    shares traded higher despite disappointing results out Wednesday night. Other semiconductor companies also benefited, with Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
    AMD

    and Micron Technology Inc.
    IN

    both among the biggest winners in the S&P 500 with gains of more than 4%.

  • NetApp Inc.,
    NTAP

    a provider of enterprise data, storage and cloud management, rose more than 6% after a strong earnings report.

  • Royal Caribbean Group
    RLC

    and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings
    NCLH

    increased by 3.9% and 4.5% respectively.

How are the other assets doing?
  • Oil futures were flat with US crude
    CL

    up just 0.1% to $94.96 a barrel.

  • The 10-year Treasury yield
    BX:TMUBMUSD10Y

    was slightly lower at 3.108%.

  • The ICE Dollar Index
    DXY

    fell 0.1% to 108.59, while gold
    GC00

    rose 0.4% to $1,767 an ounce.

  • Bitcoin
    BTCUSD

    rose 1.8% to $21,746.

  • Asian markets have benefited from the latest stimulus in China. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng
    Hong Kong: HSI

    rose 3.6% and the Shanghai Composite
    CN:SHCOMP

    increased by 1%. In Europe, the Euro Stoxx 600
    XX:XXXP

    was roughly flat.

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