Summary

A decline in technology and transportation resulted in some red ink for the S&P 500 index, despite a series of reasonable corporate earnings reports. On the other hand Verizon helped the Dow Jones industrial average set another record high.

The Dow Jones Transport Average, often looked at as a gauge of the economy’s health, ended the day down 3.1 percent, dragged lower in part by a worrisome outlook from package delivery company United Parcel Service. The transports fell to their lowest point in nearly two months as FedEx also fell.

The S&P 500 technology sector was the worst performing major group, falling 0.8 percent even as Facebook gained 2.9 percent after posting its results. Keep in mind that the tech sector has been the best-performing sector this year, leading the S&P 500’s 10.6 percent run in 2017.

After the bell, Amazon fell 2.7 percent after posting it quarterly earnings. Amazon is the last of the high-flying companies known as “FANG” stocks to report this quarter.

Healthcare, which has been the second-best performing group this year, fell 0.7 percent.

Bristol-Myers Squibb saw it shares fall 3.1 percent after a failed cancer-drug trial from rival AstraZeneca hurt sentiment for Bristol’s similar treatment regimen. AstraZeneca’s ended the day down 14.9 percent.

With nearly half the S&P 500 having reported, second-quarter earnings are expected to have climbed 10.7 percent, compared to an 8-percent rise expected at the start of the month, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Verizon rose 7.7 percent its quarterly revenue exceeded expectations. The stock was the largest support for the S&P 500, followed by Facebook and AT&T.

Twitter fell 14.1 percent. The social media platform disappointed investors with stagnant monthly active user growth.

Approximately 7.7 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, a number that was well above the 6.1 billion share daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Durable Goods Orders Rise

Shipments of durable goods increased in June for a fifth straight month, suggesting that business spending on equipment helped to raise economic growth in the second quarter.

In addition, there was a sharp narrowing in the goods trade deficit in June and increases in both retail and wholesale inventories.

The bullish reports come on the eve of Friday’s advance second-quarter gross domestic product estimate, prompting a raise in forecasts to as high as an annualized 3.5 percent rate. The economy grew at a 1.4 percent pace in the first quarter.

According to the Commerce Department, shipments of non-defense capital goods orders, excluding aircraft, increased 0.2 percent after rising 0.4 percent during May. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.

Yet, core capital goods orders, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, fell 0.1 percent last month, suggesting equipment spending could moderate in the months ahead. June’s decline was the first since December and followed a 0.7 percent rise in May, which was the largest gain since January.

The increase in equipment spending has mostly been driven by the energy sector, where oil and gas drilling has increased significantly after declining in the aftermath of the collapse in crude oil prices.

Momentum is, however, slowing as drilling activity cools. The energy sector recovery is supporting manufacturing by offsetting some of the drag from declining motor vehicle production. Manufacturing accounts for about 12 percent of the U.S. economy.

In other data on Thursday, the Commerce Department indicated that the goods trade deficit fell 3.7 percent to $63.9 billion in June amid a rise in exports. Goods exports increased $1.8 billion to $128.6 billion last month.

Imports of goods fell $0.7 billion to $192.4 billion. Separately, both retail and wholesale inventories increased 0.6 percent in June. A smaller goods trade deficit and increased stock accumulation aid GDP growth. However, rising inventories could weigh on economic growth in the coming quarters.

The Labor Department reported on Thursday that initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 10,000 claims to seasonally adjusted 244,000 claims for the week ended July 22. Layoffs remain low and are consistent with a tightening labor market.

Claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a robust labor market for 125 straight weeks. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was smaller. The labor market is near full employment, with the jobless rate at 4.4 percent.

Claims are volatile around this time of the year as automakers shut assembly plants for annual retooling. Some manufacturers are extending their summer shutdowns to manage excess inventory from falling sales. This in turn could bias the model used by the government to strip out seasonal fluctuations from the data, causing swings in the weekly numbers.

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