Stock market today: Stocks drift, and yields ease after weak report on retail sales


NEW YORK — Stocks are drifting as this week’s big swings on Wall Street calm a bit. The S&P 500 was 0.2% higher Thursday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 96 points, and the Nasdaq composite was virtually unchanged. Treasury yields sank in the bond market after a report showed that sales at U.S. retailers weakened more last month than economists expected. That helped bolster hopes for cuts to interest rates from the Federal Reserve later this year. TripAdvisor’s stock jumped after it reported better results than expected. So did Cisco Systems, but its stock fell after cutting its profit forecast.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Wall Street inched modestly higher early Thursday ahead of more corporate earnings reports and new data on January retail sales in the U.S.

Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average ticked up close to 0.2% before the opening bell.

The Commerce Department’s retail sales report will provide some hints as to whether Americans continue to spend like they did leading up to the holiday. U.S. consumer spending has been a big driver of the economy in recent years, even as the Federal Reserve has cranked up interest rates in order to tame inflation.

Many had anticipated that the Fed would start cutting interest rates as early as next month, however those hopes have been dashed after a hotter-than-expected report on inflation earlier this week. Traders are now betting that the Fed won’t cut rates until the spring or possibly summer.

Shake Shack jumped more than 12% before the bell after the burger chain posted strong fourth-quarter sales and profit.

Wendy’s, another burger chain, dipped 1.6% after it missed Wall Street’s sales and profit forecast and issued lukewarm guidance.

Mobile food delivery app Door Dash issues its latest results after the bell.

Tesla shares were on track for another day of gains after CEO Elon Musk disclosed that he upped his stake in the electric car maker to 20.5%. Musk’s stake in Tesla had fallen to around 13% after he sold large blocks of stock to help finance his 2022 purchase of the social media site Twitter, now called X.

Most companies in the S&P 500 also have been topping analysts’ forecasts for the last three months of 2023. Hopes for stronger growth in 2024 from a solid economy have been another reason the S&P 500 has set 10 records already this year.

Elsewhere, benchmarks rose in most major markets apart from Seoul, while mainland Chinese markets remained closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Japan reported its economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.4% in the last quarter of 2023, the second straight quarter it shrank after a 2.9% decline in July-September.

Japan’s nominal GDP totaled $4.2 trillion last year, or about 591 trillion yen, putting it behind the U.S., China and Germany as the world’s fourth largest economy. Germany earlier announced its GDP in 2023 was $4.4 trillion, or $4.5 trillion, depending on the currency conversion.

The extended weakness further undermined expectations that the Bank of Japan might tighten its ultra-lax monetary policy and raise its benchmark interest rate from its longstanding level of minus 0.1%. Cheap credit is good for markets, and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.2% to 38,157.94, its highest close in 34 years.

Japanese stocks have gained nearly 14% this year and almost 40% in the past year as investors have crowded into the market while pulling back from investments in China’s poorly performing bourses. The Nikkei 225 benchmark is near its all time high of 38,915, which it hit in late 1989 before the collapse of its financial bubble.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index climbed 0.4% to 15,944.63.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.8% to 7,605.70. South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.3% to 2,613.80.

Taiwan’s Taiex jumped 3% to a record high close at 18,644.57 as TSMC, the world’s largest maker of computer chips, reported its revenue jumped nearly 8% in January from a year earlier.

India’s Sensex was up 0.2% and the SET in Bangkok closed 0.4% higher.

Britain also reported its economy entered a technical recession in October-December, contracting 0.3% from the previous quarter.

In Europe at midday, London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1%, Germany’s DAX advanced 0.7% and the CAC 40 in Paris surged 0.9%.

In other trading Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude oil fell 55 cents to $76.09 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 53 cents, to $81.07 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar slipped to 150.02 Japanese yen from 150.46 yen. The euro rose to $1.0747 from $1.0727.

On Wednesday, calm on the bond market to keep things steadier on Wall Street as stocks recovered much of their sharp losses from a day before. Treasury yields eased after shooting upward Tuesday on expectations the Fed would keep rates high for longer. The central bank has already jacked its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001 to slow the economy to bring inflation down to its target.

the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4% a day after after taking its worst loss in nearly 11 months. The S&P 500 climbed 1% and the Nasdaq composite jumped 1.3%.

The smallest stocks, which took the hardest hit from worries about higher interest rates on Tuesday, bounced back more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index leaped 2.4%.



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