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Latest Stock Market News Today: Productivity on tap, Amazon to report | February 02, 2023

Nasdaq leads futures higher

U.S. equity futures traded mostly higher Thursday morning following a better-than-expected earnings report from Meta, the parent of Facebook.

The major futures indexes suggest a gain of 0.5% on the S&P 500 and a rise of 1.4% on the Nasdaq.

Oil prices rebounded on Thursday after tumbling in the previous session.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) U.S. crude futures traded around $76.00 a barrel.

Brent crude futures traded around $82.00 a barrel.

Meta Platforms shares are soaring nearly 20% in premarket trading after forecasting first-quarter revenue above Wall Street estimates, signaling a rebound in demand for digital ads after months of weak sales.

The Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy is moving toward lower inflation but more interest rate hikes are planned.

Thursday’s economic reports will be jobless claims, productivity and factory orders.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.2%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 0.5% and China’s Shanghai Composite Index was little changed.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closed 1% higher after the Fed raised its key lending rate by 0.25 percentage points, smaller than previous hikes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained less than 0.1% to 34,092.96. The Nasdaq composite jumped 2% to 11,816.32.

Meta shares jump on revenue beat

Meta Platforms shares soaring 20% in premarket trading after forecasting first-quarter revenue above Wall Street estimates, signaling a rebound in demand for digital ads after months of weak sales.

The parent of Instagram and Facebook forecast revenue between $26 billion and $28.5 billion, compared with analysts’ average estimates of $27.14 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The digital ad giant faced a brutal 2022 as companies cut back on marketing spend due to economic worries, while rivals like TikTok captured younger users and Apple’s privacy updates continued to challenge the business of placing targeted ads.

Meta’s forecast is an indication
that the ad market may be recovering as companies increase their marketing budgets, after a long pause due to macroeconomic uncertainties.

Net income for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, however, fell to $4.65 billion, or $1.76 per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $10.29 billion, or $3.67 per share, a year earlier, largely due to a $4.2 billion charge related to cost-cutting moves such as layoffs.

Posted by Reuters

Health care and technology headline Thursday’s earnings

Before the bell earnings are due from health care companies including Cardinal Health, Merck, Bristol-Myers, Eli Lilly, Becton Dickinson, and Quest Diagnostics. 

Also watch for numbers from oil and gas giant ConocoPhillips,
industrial conglomerate Honeywell International, cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, chocolate manufacturer Hershey, and satellite radio company Sirius XM. 

In the afternoon all eyes will be on Dow member Apple, online retailing giant Amazon, and Google parent Alphabet when the three tech titans report earnings after the closing bell. 

The stocks all rose Wednesday with the rest of the technology sector after some positive comments on inflation by Fed chief Powell during the post-FOMC meeting press conference, which boosted hopes that the Fed will pause after one more rate hike in March.

Jobless claims lead Thursday’s economic reports

The Labor Department will tell us how many workers filed new jobless claims last week.

Expectations are for 200,000 after falling unexpectedly to 186,000 the previous week, the lowest since April. The report comes as the labor market remains stubbornly tight even after months of aggressive Fed tightening.

Continuing claims, which track the total number of workers collecting unemployment benefits, are expected to edge up to 1.677 million.

Also watch for preliminary fourth-quarter productivity and labor costs. Economists surveyed by Refinitiv anticipate that worker productivity increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.4%. That’s a big improvement from the 0.8% growth rate in the third quarter. 

Unit labor costs are seen increasing at a 1.5% annual rate, almost a full percentage point lower than the 2.4% print in the third quarter.

 The Commerce Department is expected to say factory orders
popped 2.2% in December, reversing a 1.8% slide the prior month.

Shell makes record $40 billion annual profit

Shell reported a a record $40 billion profit in 2022 on Thursday.

The British company’s record earnings, which more than doubled from a year earlier, mirror those reported by U.S. rivals earlier this week and are certain to intensify pressure on governments to further raise taxes on the sector.

Shell also posted record fourth-quarter profit of $9.8 billion on the back of a strong recovery in earnings from liquefied natural gas (LNG) trading, beating analyst forecasts for an $8 billion profit.

Annual profit reached $39.9 billion, more than doubling from a year earlier and far exceeding the previous record of $31 billion in 2008.

Shell boosted its dividend by 15% in the fourth quarter, as previously announced, for the fifth increase since delivering a more than 60% cut in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

The company also announced a new $4 billion share buyback programme over the next three months.

Reuters contributed to this post.

Oil rises, dollar slides, OPEC+ keeps output cut policy

Oil prices rebounded on Thursday after tumbling in the previous session as a weaker dollar brought back some appetite for risk assets and the OPEC+ decision to roll over an output cut helped ease oversupply concerns.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) U.S. crude futures traded around $76.00 a barrel.

Brent crude futures traded around $82.00 a barrel.

Both benchmarks plunged more than 3% after U.S. government data showed big builds in crude and oil products inventory.

The Federal Reserve raised its target interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point on Wednesday, yet continued to promise “ongoing increases” in borrowing costs as part of its ongoing battle against inflation.

The U.S. dollar index dived to a fresh nine-month low on Thursday in reaction to the softer rate hike bets. 

Reuters contributed to this post.

Pump price moves lower

The price of gasoline ticked lower on Thursday.

The nationwide price for 
a gallon of gasoline
 declined to $3.498, according to AAA.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline on Wednesday was $3.501.

A year ago, the price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.399.

One week ago, a gallon of gasoline cost $3.502.  A month ago, that same gallon of gasoline cost $3.216.

Gas hit an all-time high of $5.016 on June 14.

Diesel remains below $5.00 per gallon at $4.675, but that is still a far from the $3.744 of a year ago.

Cryptocurrency prices for Bitcoin, Ethereum traded higher, Dogecoin lower Thursday morning

Bitcoin was trading around $23,000, after gaining in three of the last four days.

For the week, Bitcoin has gained 2.5%.

The cryptocurrency has gained 43% year-to-date, but is down over 35% from 52 weeks ago.

Ethereum was trading around $1,600, after gaining 1.6% in the past week.

Dogecoin was trading at 9 cents, after adding more than 8% in the past week.

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