The major domestic equity indexes moved sharply higher on Thursday, with the Nasdaq chalking up its largest daily percentage gain since March One key reason was Microsoft’s upbeat earnings numbers that encouraged a rebound in technology names sending investors after oversold shares.
The Nasdaq rose 3 percent, registering its largest daily percentage gain since March 26, a day after it confirmed a correction and registered its biggest decline since 2011.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 indexes both moved back in positive territory for the year.
Microsoft rose 5.8 percent after it exceeded consensus estimates for revenue and profit. That, along with gains in chipmakers, helping the technology index rise 2.89 percent.
The latest round of upbeat results came from a wide range of companies, including Ford, Visa, Whirlpool and Twitter, and offered relief after the earnings season began on a tepid note and then geared lower on sluggish outlooks from manufacturers and chipmakers.
Stocks have sold off recently amid worries over the impact of tariffs and China’s profit slowdown, as well as concerns ranging from rising costs, bond yields, Italy’s budget struggles and upcoming U.S. congressional elections.
In a further sign that economic growth is moderating, business spending on equipment appeared to have remained slow in September and the goods trade deficit widened further as rising imports outpaced a rebound in exports.
But the recent sell-off has also made stocks slightly cheaper. The S&P 500’s valuation fell to a two-and-a-half year low of 15.3 times profit estimates for the next 12 months from 15.8, according to Refinitiv data.
Results from S&P 500 companies have pushed up third-quarter profit growth estimates to 23.6 percent from 21.8 percent in the last 10 days. But dour forecasts have pulled down fourth-quarter growth estimates to 19.4 percent from 19.9 percent, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.
Ford, which is struggling with sales in China, rose 9.9 percent as its earnings report raised hopes for a strong finish to the year, bolstering gains in the consumer discretionary sector.
Advanced Micro Devices’ weak forecast sent its stock tumbling 15.4 percent. But the Philadelphia Semiconductor index rose 2.3 percent, helped by Xilinx’s 15 percent jump on its strong quarterly report.
After the bell, shares of Amazon and Alphabet fell sharply following the release of their results. Amazon was down 3.9 percent while Alphabet was down 3.4 percent.
Approximately 9.2 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges on Thursday, as compared to the 9.6 billion shares traded in Wednesday’s rout and 11.44 billion when it sold off on Oct. 11.
New orders for non-defense capital goods fell for a second straight month in September and the goods trade deficit increased further amid rising imports, suggesting economic a moderation of economic growth during the third quarter.
Meanwhile, other data on Thursday indicated gains in both wholesale and retail inventories during September. The economy is being underpinned by a tightening labor market, which is gradually boosting wage growth.
According to a report by the Commerce Department released Thursday morning, orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, fell 0.1 percent last month amid weakening demand for fabricated metals and electrical equipment, appliances and components.
Those numbers came on the heels of a 0.2 percent decrease in the so-called core capital goods orders in August. Core capital goods orders increased 6.6 percent on a year-on-year basis.
Shipments of core capital goods were unchanged in September for a second straight month. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.
Business spending on equipment is slowing after growing at a brisk pace for more than a year. It was buoyed by the Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion tax cut package, which included a sharp reduction in the corporate tax rate.
However, lower taxes are being offset by the administration’s “America First” policies, which have led to a bitter trade war between the United States and China, as well as tit-for-tat tariffs with other major trade partners.
Companies including Caterpillar, 3M and Ford have complained about rising manufacturing costs as a result of the duties on imported steel and other raw materials.
In its Beige Book report published on Wednesday, the Fed indicated that, “manufacturers reported raising prices of finished goods out of necessity as costs of raw materials such as metals rose, which they attributed to tariffs.”
In another report on Thursday, the Commerce Department said the goods trade deficit increased 0.8 percent to $76.0 billion in September. Exports of goods rose $2.5 billion to $141.0 billion last month. They were, however, offset by a $3.1 billion increase in imports to $217.0 billion.
The anticipated drag on GDP growth from the deteriorating trade deficit is expected to be offset somewhat by an increase in inventory investment. The department said wholesale inventories rose 0.3 percent last month. Retail inventories gained 0.1 percent.
Growth estimates for the third quarter are above a 3.0 percent annualized rate. The economy grew at a 4.2 percent pace in the second quarter. The government will publish its snapshot of third-quarter GDP growth on Friday.
A third report from the Labor Department on Thursday indicated that initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased by 5,000 claims to a seasonally adjusted 215,000 claims for the week ended Oct. 20. Claims fell by 202,000 claims during the week ended Sept. 15, which was the lowest level since November 1969.
The four-week moving average of initial claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, was unchanged at 211,750 last week.
The labor market is viewed as being near or at full employment, with the unemployment rate close to a 49-year low of 3.7 percent. There are a record 7.14 million open jobs in the economy, suggesting a shortage of skilled workers.
Tightening labor market conditions and a robust economy likely will keep the Fed on course to increase interest rates again in December. The Fed raised rates in September for the third time this year and removed a reference to monetary policy remaining “accommodative” from its policy statement.