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U.S. Stocks Fluctuate Before Closing Mostly Higher

wallstreet aug13 29apr21 lt

Stocks showed wild fluctuations over the course of the trading session on Thursday but managed to end the day mostly higher. With the upward move on the day, the S&P 500 ended the session at a new record closing high.

The major averages all closed in positive territory, although the Nasdaq underperformed its counterparts. While the Nasdaq edged up 31.52 points or 0.2 percent to 14,082.55, the Dow climbed 239.98 points or 0.7 percent to 34,060.36 and the S&P 500 advanced 28.29 points or 0.7 percent to 4,211.47.

The higher close on Wall Street came following the release of upbeat earnings news from tech giants like Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB).

Shares of Apple jumped as much as 2.6 percent in early trading to reach a nearly three-month intraday high but pulled back near the unchanged line over the course of the session.

The initial advance by Apple came after the tech giant reported fiscal second quarter earnings that far exceeded analyst estimates and increased its stock buyback and dividend.

Social media giant Facebook climbed to a new record closing high after reporting much better than expected first quarter earnings.

Shares of Qualcomm (QCOM) also moved notably higher after the chipmaker reported better than expected fiscal second quarter results and provided upbeat guidance.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to a new pandemic-era low in the week ended April 24th.

The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 553,000, a decrease of 13,000 from the previous week's revised level of 566,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to inch up to 549,000 from the 547,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Jobless claims fell for the third straight week, once again sliding to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

Meanwhile, preliminary data released by the Commerce Department showed an acceleration in the pace of U.S. economic growth in the first three months of 2021.

The report said real gross domestic product surged up by 6.4 percent in the first quarter after jumping by 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020. Economists had expected GDP to increase by 6.5 percent.

Sector News

Banking stocks showed a significant move to the upside on the day, driving the KBW Bank Index up by 2 percent to a new record closing high.

Substantial strength also emerged among networking stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Networking Index.

Housing stocks also turned in a strong performance, resulting in a 1.8 percent advance by the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index. The index reached its best closing level since a two-for-one split in early 2006.

The strength among housing stocks came after a report from the National Association of Realtors showed a rebound in pending home sales in the month of March.

On the other hand, gold stocks moved sharply lower on the day, dragging the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index down by 2.4 percent.

The sell-off by gold stocks came amid a decrease by the price of the precious metal, with gold for June delivery sliding $5.60 to $1,768.30 an ounce.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher on Thursday, with the Japanese markets closed for a holiday. China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside over the course of the session. While the German DAX Index slumped by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed just below the unchanged line.

In the bond market, treasuries regained ground after seeing early weakness but remained in negative territory. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, rose by 2 basis points to 1.640 percent after reaching a high of 1.688 percent.

Looking Ahead

Earnings news is likely to remain in focus on Friday, with Amazon (AMZN), Gilead Sciences (GILD), Twitter (TWTR), U.S. Steel (X) and Western Digital (WDC) among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today's trading.

Energy giants Chevron (CVX) and Exxon Mobil (XOM) are also among the companies due to report their results before the start of trading on Friday.

On the U.S. economic front, traders are likely to keep an eye on reports on personal income and spending, consumer sentiment, and Chicago-area business activity.

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