U.S. stocks closed higher on Thursday buoyed by strong economic and earnings data. All three major stock indexes closed in the green. For the week as a whole, both the Dow and Nasdaq Composite advanced while S&P 500 retreated marginally. Notably, markets were closed on Friday on account of Good Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) closed at 26,559.54, gaining 0.4% or 110 points. The S&P 500 Index (INX) increased 0.2% to close at 2,905.03. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index (IXIC) closed at 7,998.06, gaining 1.98 points. A total of 6.79 billion shares were traded on Thursday, inline with the last 20-session average. Decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1.07-to-1 ratio. On the Nasdaq, decliners had an edge over advancers by 1.05-to-1 ratio. The CBOE VIX decreased 4.1% to close at 12.09.
How Did the Benchmarks Perform?
The Dow ended in positive territory with 18 stocks of the 30-stockblue-chip index finishing in the green while twelve ended in the red. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite finished in the green due to strong performance by large-cap tech stocks. The S&P 500 also closed in the green. The Industrials Select Sector SPDR (XLI) surged 1.2%. Notably, eight out of eleven sectors of the benchmark index closed in the green while three finished in the red.
Better-than-Expected First-Quarter Earnings
As of Apr 18, 77 companies of the benchmark S&P 500 Index reported first-quarter 2019 earnings results. Total earnings of these companies were up 0.2% year over year on 2.5% higher revenues.
On Apr 18, Honeywell International Inc. HON reported better-than-expected first-quarter 2019 results. Adjusted earnings were $1.92 per share, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.83.Honeywell’s first-quarter revenues came in at $8,884 million, surpassing the consensus estimate of $8,621 million. (Read More)
The Travelers Companies Inc. TRV reported first-quarter 2019 earnings per share of $2.83 per share beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.76. Travelers’ total revenues rose to $7.6 billion. The top-line figure also outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 0.5%. (Read More)
American Express Co. AXP posted adjusted earnings of $2.01 per share beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 0.5%. However, revenues (net of interest expenses) came in at $10.4 billion, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.2%. (Read More)
Consequently, shares of Honeywell International, The Travelers Companies and American Express were up 3.8%, 2.3% and 1.7%, respectively. Honeywell International carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Robust Economic Data
On Apr 18, Department of Commerce reported that retail sales increased by 1.6% in March outpacing the consensus estimate of 0.9%. This was the highest monthly increase experienced since September 2017 and a massive turnaround from a 0.2% decline in February.
Sales at gas stations increased 3.5% in March. Moreover, spending at auto dealers jumped 3.1%. Clothiers reported a 2% gain and furniture stores advanced by 1.7%. Excluding autos and gas, retail sales increased by 0.9% in March. Year over year, retail sales grew 3.6% in March.
The Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted figure of 192,000 for the week ended Apr 13. The figure came in below the consensus estimate of 204,000and is the lowest recorded in 50 years. The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits popularly known as continuing claims -- declined by 63,000 to 1.65 million.
Last week was a mixed one for Wall Street. The Dow and Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.6% and 0.2%, respectively. However, the S&P 500 shed 0.1%.
Strong first-quarter earnings data and robust economic data enhanced investors’ confidence in risky assets such as equities. However, concerns about global economic concerns remains despite strong economic data from China. The U.S. economy may also face a slowdown although recessionary fears have largely evaporated.
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