The U.S. equity market claimed a modest victory on Thursday, trimming its loss for the week. Stocks trended sideways for much of the session, but slipped in the final stretch to leave the major indices near the bottom of their narrow trading ranges. The Dow and the S&P 500 added 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq shed 0.1%. The S&P 500 will enter Friday's session with a week-to-date loss of 0.6%.
Investors received another largely positive batch of earnings overnight, with most companies topping expectations. Twitter (TWTR 20.31, +3.17) was one of the most notable post-earnings advancers, rallying 18.5%, after beating earnings estimates and announcing that it could post its first profit ever in the fourth quarter. Similarly, Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD 120.95, +19.80) soared 19.6% after blowing past profit estimates and raising its earnings guidance for the fiscal year.
Materials showed particular strength on Thursday, sending the S&P 500's materials sector (+1.4%) to the top of the sector standings. Within the group, DowDuPont (DWDP 73.05, +1.96) was among the strongest components, adding 2.8%, after providing upbeat preliminary earnings figures ahead of next week's earnings release.
The heavily-weighted financial sector (+0.6%) also outperformed, helped by the House's vote to pass a budget for fiscal year 2018--the same budget that the Senate passed last week. The budget approval was seen as an important step in the GOP's tax overhaul effort as it allows Republicans to pass a tax reform bill under the reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority in the Senate vs the typical 60-vote threshold.
While the broader market moved higher on Thursday, the S&P 500's health care sector (-1.0%) struggled from start to finish, keeping the benchmark index's gain in check. Within the group, Celgene (CELG 99.99, -19.57) plunged 16.4% after missing revenue estimates for the third quarter and lowering its 2020 long-term financial targets. The larger biotech industry moved in tandem with Celgene, sending the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB 313.98, -7.47) lower by 2.3%.
On a related note, pharmacy names like Walgreens Boot Alliance (WBA 67.11, -2.25) and CVS Health (CVS 73.31, -2.22) dropped 3.2% and 2.9%, respectively, after President Trump declared the nation's opioid crisis a national public health emergency. Reports that Amazon (AMZN 972.43, -0.48) has obtained pharmacy licenses across several states also weighed on retail pharmacy shares.
Also, manged health care giant Aetna (AET 178.60, +18.48) spiked 11.5% in the final minutes of Thursday's session following reports that CVS might be interested in the company.
Elsewhere, the European Central Bank decided to leave interest rates unchanged and announced that it expects to lower its monthly asset purchases to EUR 30 billion from EUR 60 billion in January, as expected. That pace of purchases is expected to continue until at least the end of September 2018.
The euro tumbled 1.4% against the U.S. Dollar to 1.1650 following the ECB's announcement, hitting its lowest level since late July.
In the bond market, U.S. Treasuries ended Thursday on a lower note, with shorter-dated issues showing relative weakness. The benchmark 10-yr yield climbed one basis point to 2.45%, while the 2-yr yield jumped three basis points to 1.63%. Yields move inversely to prices.
Reviewing Thursday's economic data, which included weekly Initial Claims, September Pending Home Sales, the Advance report for International Trade in Goods for September, and the Advance report for Wholesale Inventories for September:
- The latest weekly initial jobless claims count totaled 233,000 while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 235,000. Today's tally was above the revised prior week count of 223,000 (from 222,000). As for continuing claims, they declined to 1.893 million from the revised count of 1.896 million (from 1.888 million).
- Claims taking procedures continued to be disrupted in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, yet the underlying message in the initial claims data is that it is consistent with a tight labor market.
- Pending Home Sales were unchanged in September (0.0%). Today's reading follows an revised 2.8% decrease in August (from -2.6%).
- The Advance report for International Trade in Goods for September showed a deficit of $64.1 billion, up from a deficit of $63.3 billion in August.
- The Advance report for Wholesale Inventories for September showed an increase of 0.3%. The prior month's reading was revised to +0.8% from +0.9%.
On Friday, investors will receive the advance third quarter GDP report (Briefing.com consensus 2.4%) and the final reading of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for October (Briefing.com consensus 101.0). The two reports will cross the wires at 8:30 ET and 10:00 ET, respectively.
- Nasdaq Composite +21.8% YTD
- Dow Jones Industrial Average +18.4% YTD
- S&P 500 +14.4% YTD
- Russell 2000 +10.3% YTD