Before The Bell - The major indexes U.S. Stocks had a positive open to start the week, but trading became a bit mixed as the session wore on.
News on the economic front was light yesterday. The Commerce Department announced that orders for durable goods were up 0.5% in March, but this was well short of the consensus forecast. The numbers were weighed down by a big drop in aircraft sales, as well as supply chain hiccups due to shortfalls in raw materials and supplies.
The Dow Jones Industrials ended the session down 61 points, while the broader S&P 500 gained seven points to close at a new high. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy NASDAQ ruled the day and also reached a new high-water mark, closing up 121 points, or 0.9%. Performance among the major market sectors was also mixed, but mostly positive. The plus side was led by energy, technology, and consumer discretionary stocks, each rising about 0.6%. In the minus column, consumer staples were down 1.2% as rising commodity prices sparked fears of inflation, while utilities shed slightly over half a percentage point. Meanwhile, the European bourses had an up day. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 and France’s CAC-40 were both up by about one-third of a percentage point, while Germany’s DAX posted a modest increase.
Elsewhere oil prices spent the day in the red, but pared their losses to end slightly lower, with light sweet crude down 0.4%, to about $61.90 a barrel. The move comes ahead of Wednesday’s meeting between OPEC and its oil-producing allies. Although worldwide demand for the commodity is improving, the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in India has added an element of risk, increasing the chances that OPEC will not move to ahead with planned production increases. The commodity is up about 30% for the year to date, and has more than tripled since the depths of the coronavirus lockdowns a year ago.
As we look to the new day, stocks in Asian markets closed mostly around the unchanged mark, while the European bourses are showing small losses. On our shores, U.S. stock futures are suggesting the major indexes will have a mixed open. Meanwhile, crude oil prices have moved higher. Earnings season remains in high gear, with heavy hitters such as Alphabet (GOOG), Amazon.com (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), and Microsoft (MFST) all reporting quarterly financial results this week. So far, results in general have been good, with aggregate earnings showing their biggest quarterly advance in more than a decade. Even so, it appears unlikely that there will be any policy changes announced at Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s press conference following the close of the FOMC’s meeting on Wednesday. – Mario Ferro