U.S. stocks are maintaining their proximity to record levels, supported by ongoing evidence indicating the resilience of the job market. In early trading on Thursday, the S&P 500 showed little change, holding steady after approaching the 5,000 mark for the first time the previous day. The Dow rose by 69 points, while the Nasdaq composite remained relatively unchanged. Positive signs for the economy persisted as a report revealed fewer than expected applications for unemployment benefits last week. Additionally, The Walt Disney Co. experienced a surge after reporting stronger-than-anticipated profits for the latest quarter.
Futures for the S&P 500 dipped by 0.2% before the opening bell, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average remained largely unaffected. This week’s focus remains on corporate earnings, with minimal economic indicators scheduled from Washington. Investors continue to be unsettled by turbulence in the regional banking sector.
New York Community Bancorp experienced another decline, dropping by 4.9% early Thursday. The bank has seen roughly half of its value wiped out since surprising investors with a loss driven by commercial real estate holdings last week. The bank’s struggles also include challenges related to its acquisition of Signature Bank, which was one of the banks affected by last year’s mini banking crisis.
The Walt Disney Co. saw a pre-market jump of nearly 8% following its robust first-quarter earnings report on Wednesday. The company’s earnings were bolstered by cost reductions and increased revenue from its theme parks. Disney reported earnings of $1.91 billion, or $1.04 per share, marking a 49% increase from the same period last year.
Conversely, online payment company PayPal experienced a pre-market decline of almost 9.7%, despite surpassing sales and profit forecasts. The company’s shares plummeted due to a flat profit forecast for 2024.
In Asian trading, Hong Kong’s benchmark index fell, while Shanghai saw gains after China announced a change in its top stock market regulator late Wednesday. The move is part of Beijing’s efforts to stabilize what have been some of the world’s worst-performing markets this year. Wu Qing, the newly appointed regulator, is known for his strict enforcement against market abuses, earning him the nickname “broker butcher.”
Market confidence has been dampened by concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the operation of China’s markets. In Thursday’s trading, the Shanghai Composite index and the Shenzhen Components index both recorded gains. Markets in mainland China will be closed from Friday through next week for the Lunar New Year holidays.
Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 and Seoul’s Kospi index posted gains, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 also saw an increase. However, Bangkok’s SET index and India’s Sensex experienced losses.
In European trading, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 advanced, while Britain’s FTSE 100 remained unchanged.
In other markets, U.S. benchmark crude oil prices rose, and the dollar strengthened against the yen while weakening slightly against the euro.
Wednesday’s trading session saw Wall Street edging closer to another record-breaking milestone, with notable gains from stocks such as Ford Motor and Chipotle Mexican Grill following their latest earnings reports. The S&P 500 approached the 5,000 level, while the Dow and the Nasdaq composite also recorded gains.
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