Friday April 16th


Stock futures rise after Dow closes above 34,000 for the first time

U.S. stock index futures rose in early morning trading on Friday after the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 34,000 threshold for the first time ever. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained about 70 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures rose about 0.2% each. The last of the six largest U.S. banks – Morgan Stanley — reported stronger-than-expected earnings before the bell on Friday, bolstered by strong trading and investment banking results. During regular trading hours, the blue-chip Dow rose 300 points to top the 34,000 milestone amid  blowout economic data. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite gained more than 1% each on Thursday. “The Dow’s push through 34,000 is a signal that investor appetite for future growth prospects is spilling over into more value-oriented names,” said Peter Essele, head of portfolio management at Commonwealth Financial Network. “The demand for industrials and more cyclically-oriented areas should continue as the vaccines take hold and earnings potentially come in higher than originally expected.” Investor sentiment was boosted by economic data on Thursday that pointed to a rebound in consumer spending and the jobs market. Retail sales jumped 9.8% in March as additional stimulus sent consumer spending soaring, topping the Dow Jones estimate of a 6.1% gain. Meanwhile, U.S. jobless claims dropped to the lowest level since March 2020. The Labor Department reported 576,000 first-time filings for unemployment insurance for the week ended April 10. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a total of 710,000. “Retail sales, much like every other data point in the past month, is the polar opposite of the same period a year ago,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner for Harris Financial Group. “The data were off-the-charts horrible, now the data are off-the-charts terrific. It’s what happens from here that matters.” The first-quarter earnings season started on a high note with big banks reporting results above expectations. Morgan Stanley is set to release its earnings Friday before the bell. Wall Street is poised to wrap up another winning week. The S&P 500 has gained 1% this week, on pace for its fourth straight positive week. The Dow has climbed 0.7%, while the Nasdaq is up 1% through Thursday. Shares in Asia-Pacific edged higher on Friday as investors reacted to the release of Chinese economic data. Mainland Chinese stocks closed higher as the Shanghai composite gained 0.81% to 3,426.62 while the Shenzhen component advanced 0.296% to 13,720.74. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.76%, as of its final hour of trading. The Nikkei 225 in Japan finished the trading day 0.14% higher at 29,683.37 while the Topix index climbed about 0.1% to 1,960.87. South Korea’s Kospi closed 0.13% higher at 3,198.62. Oil prices dipped in early trade on Friday but were on course for a weekly gain of more than 6% with an improved oil demand outlook and strong economic recoveries in China and the United States offsetting concerns about spikes in COVID-19 infections. Brent crude futures gained 10 cents to trade at $67.04 per barrel, following a 36 cent rise on Thursday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were flat at $63.46 per barrel, after climbing 31 cents on Thursday. Gold prices firmed near a seven-week peak on Friday, on course to register their best week in five, as a retreat in U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar lifted the metal’s appeal. Spot gold had risen 0.3% to $1,767.80 per ounce by 0945 GMT, having hit its highest since Feb. 26 at $1,769.37 on Thursday. It is up 1.4% so far this week. U.S. gold futures were steady at $1,767.10.