Nasdaq Reaches Record Closing High But Dow Edges Lower - U.S. Commentary


(RTTNews.com) - Following the pullback seen late in the previous session, the major averages turned in a mixed performance during trading on Thursday. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed to a new record closing high, the narrower Dow closed lower for the third straight day.

The Nasdaq advanced 65.34 points or 0.9 percent to 7,761.04. The S&P 500 also rose 6.86 points or 0.3 percent to 2,782.49, but the Dow edged down 25.89 points or 0.1 percent at 25,175.31.

The advance by the Nasdaq was partly due to continued strength among media stocks, with 21st Century Fox (FOXA) extending the strong upward seen in the previous session.

Fox moved notably higher after Comcast ( CMCSA ) announced a $65 billion bid for most of the company's media assets, igniting a potential bidding war with Disney ( DIS ).

Meanwhile, a notable decline by shares of General Electric (GE) weighed on the Dow, with the industrial conglomerate slumping by 1.8 percent.

The drop by GE came after CEO John Flannery told French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire the company's commitment to create 1,000 jobs by the end of 2018 as part of its acquisition of Alstom's energy business is now out of reach.

Earlier in the day, buying interest was generated by the release of some upbeat economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing a much bigger than expected increase in retail sales in the month of May.

The Commerce Department said retail sales jumped by 0.8 percent in May after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.4 percent in April. Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.4 percent.

Excluding sales by motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales still surged up by 0.9 percent in May following a 0.4 percent increase in April. Ex-auto sales had been expected to climb by 0.5 percent.

A separate report from the Labor Department unexpectedly showed a modest decrease in initial jobless claims in the week ended June 9th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 218,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 222,000. Economists had expected initial jobless claims to inch up to 224,000.

Traders were also digesting the European Central Bank's highly anticipated monetary policy announcement, with the ECB revealing plans to wind down its massive bond-buying program.

The ECB said it plans to reduce the monthly pace of its net asset purchases to 15 billion euros from 30 billion euros after September before completely ending the program at the end of December.

Meanwhile, the ECB left interest rates unchanged and said it expects rates to remain at their present levels at least through the summer of 2019.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors showed only modest moves on the day, contributing to the relatively lackluster close by the broader markets.

Utilities stocks showed a strong move to the upside, however, with the Dow Jones Utilities Average climbing by 1.3 percent. The average climbed further off the four-month closing low set on Monday.

Notable strength was also visible among gold stocks, as reflected by the 1.1 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index. The strength in the sector came as the price of gold for August delivery climbed $7 to $1,308.30 an ounce.

Biotechnology, telecom, and real estate stocks also saw some strength on the day, while banking stocks moved to the downside.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved to the downside during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index slumped by 1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped by 0.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved significantly higher following the ECB announcement. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index surged up by 1.4 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

In the bond, treasuries regained some ground following the pullback seen late in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, fell by 3.1 basis points to 2.946 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading on Friday may be impacted by reaction to reports on industrial production, consumer sentiment, and New York manufacturing activity.

On the other earnings front, Adobe Systems ( ADBE ), Finisar ( FNSR ) and Jabil (JBL) are releasing their quarterly results after the close of today's trading.


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