This post was originally published on this site

Stocks ended a choppy session mixed as investors digested a host of corporate earnings results and considered policymakers’ next moves to support the still virus-stricken economy.

Load Error

[Click here to read what’s moving markets heading into Friday, February 12]

The S&P 500 shook off earlier declines to narrowly eke out a record closing high. The Dow ended a tick below its recent record closing level. The Nasdaq advanced to a record high of its own as tech shares outperformed, gaining 0.4% by market close.

Over the past several weeks, investors have watched as a growing list of companies across various industries handily beat earnings expectations. S&P 500 companies are on track to grow aggregate earnings per share by about 1.7% for the fourth quarter, according to an analysis by FactSet’s John Butters. Most analysts had been expecting another quarter of year-over-year declines heading into earnings season. Even still, companies that beat on both revenue and earnings have not been rewarded for their performance, and instead lagged the market by an average of about 0.5% in the period just before and after their reports, Butters added.

The lackluster reactions to earnings add to other unorthodox trends seen elsewhere in markets as of late.

“Record low yields in fixed income, low expected returns in large-cap equities, and $23 trillion in policy stimulus (with more on the way) leave investors with no good reasons to be bearish but few inexpensive ways to be bullish,” Bank of America strategists including Jared Woodard wrote in a note Wednesday.

“Some are turning to alternatives. Crowd-sourced trading, the rise of cryptocurrencies and Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs), the lack of guidance in both foreign and domestic markets, and record savings gluts are all evidence of low investor trust in conventional methods and desperation for returns in a stagnant world,” they added.

Even still, U.S. stocks have buoyed near record highs, in large part thanks to fiscal and monetary policy support. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said in a speech Wednesday that the central bank “will not tighten policy” until a robust economic recovery has taken place and the labor market rebound extends across a broad cross-section of the population, lifting those hardest-hit by the pandemic. And while he acknowledged that inflation readings may start to launch higher later this year when compared to last year, he said he does not expect to see a large or sustained increase in prices across core categories.

And Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that Powell’s “assessment reiterates the need for the strongest possible benefits package in our COVID relief bill,” including at least $400 in weekly federal unemployment payments and six months of other enhanced jobless benefits. Congressional committees have been working this week to draft legislation for the next coronavirus relief package.

4:04 p.m. ET: Stocks end mixed: Dow retreats from record high while S&P 500 rises for first time in three sessions

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:04 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +6.51 (+0.17%) to 3,916.39

  • Dow (^DJI): -7.50 (-0.02%) to 31,430.30

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +53.24 (+0.38%) to 14,025.77

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.74 (-1.26%) to $57.94 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$16.50 (-0.90%) to $1,826.20 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +2.5 bps to yield 1.1580%

1:38 p.m. ET: Dating app company Bumble soars in public debut

Bumble (BMBL) shares opened at $76 each in its public debut on Thursday, becoming the latest high-growth, consumer-facing tech company to post a strong first session on the public markets. The dating app company’s stock surged more than 80% during its first minutes of trading before paring some gains.

A day earlier, Bumble sold 50 million shares and priced its IPO at $43 each, raising $2.15 billion.

12:21 p.m. ET: Stocks trade lower, erasing earlier gains

Here’s where markets were trading Thursday afternoon:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC):-6.58 points (-0.17%) to 3,903.30

  • Dow (^DJI): -106.90 points (-0.34%) to 31,330.90

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC):-0.78 points, (-0.01%) at 13,971.01

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.33 (-0.56%) to $58.35 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$16.00 (-0.87%) to $1,827.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.4 bps to yield 1.148%

11:07 a.m. ET: ‘The long-term picture is very, very sound’ for Bitcoin: BTIG strategist

Some strategists are striking an even more bullish tone on Bitcoin (BTC-USD), even as the cryptocurrency surged from below $33,000 at the end of January to more than $48,000 so far in February. The cryptocurrency was trading higher by 6% to more than $47,500 Thursday morning.

“Bitcoin and blockchain itself – and obviously all the other cryptocurrencies – are in what we call the price discovery phase. It is essentially a new technology, a new way of looking at the world,” Julian Emanuel, BTIG managing director, told Yahoo Finance on Thursday. “And from our point of view, again, we think about it in terms of – it’s a 70 volatility asset. Very, very volatile. When we launched coverage of cryptocurrencies in late November, Bitcoin was at $18,000, we had a $50,000 year-end 2021 price target. People thought we were quick aggressive.”

“The same people are now telling us that we’re probably not aggressive enough with this price target,” he added. “But when you think about all the incremental buyers coming in, the interest that’s building, and on the other hand the likelihood that the government is going to begin to look at cryptocurrency more carefully from a regulatory aspect, the long-term picture looks very very sound. And we do think that it is a secular bull market. But there are always pullbacks in secular bull markets.”

‘We think the market has come a very long way very quickly,” he said. “We think it’s actually one of these times when a bit of sideways activity is likely to be healthy in preparation for another leg higher.”

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open slightly higher

Here’s where markets were trading shortly after the opening bell:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC):+10.63 points (+0.27%) to 3,920.51

  • Dow (^DJI): +38.59 points (+0.12%) to 31,476.39

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +79.71 points (+0.57%) to 14,050.82

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.10 (-0.17%) to $58.58 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$0.70 (+0.04%) to $1,843.40 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.5 bps to yield 1.147%

8:30 a.m. ET: Jobless claims reach 5-week low

Another 793,000 Americans filed for new unemployment claims for the week ended Feb 6. New weekly jobless claims fell relative to the prior week’s level, which was upwardly revised to 812,000 from the 779,000 previously reported. This brought new claims for the week ended February 6 to the lowest level in five weeks.

The number of Americans claiming benefits across all state and federal unemployment benefits increased sharply in last week’s data, however. More than 20.4 million Americans were still claiming benefits of some form, marking an increase of more than 2.5 million from the prior week. That included more than 13 million on either of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs.

7:30 a.m. ET: Kraft Heinz will sell nuts business to Hormel for $3.35 billion; 4Q results top estimates

Kraft Heinz (KHC) posted fourth-quarter results that handily topped estimates, as consumers mostly eating at home helped stoke retail sales and offset ongoing declines in sales to restaurants.

Fourth-quarter organic revenue grew 6%, reversing course after sliding 2.2% in the same quarter last year. Consensus analysts were looking for growth of 5.1%, according to Bloomberg data. Adjusted earnings of 80 cents per share were better than the 73 cents expected.

The company also said it agreed to sell its nuts business to peer food giant Hormel (HRL) in a $3.35 billion cash deal. The products included under this transaction include the Planters and Corn Nuts brands.

7:19 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures point to a higher open, holding onto overnight gains

Here’s where markets were trading Thursday ahead of the opening bell:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,913.5, up 10.5 points or 0.27%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 31,398.00, up 70 points or 0.22%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,699.50, up 56.00 points or 0.41%

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.46 (-0.78%) to $58.22 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$0.80 (+0.04%) to $1,843.50 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.9 bps to yield 1.143%

6:09 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures tick higher

Here’s where markets were trading Wednesday as overnight trading kicked off:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,905.25, up 2.25 points or 0.06%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 31,355.00, up 27 points or 0.09%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,652.50, up 9.00 points or 0.07%

© Provided by Yahoo! Finance People play as snow falls in Wall Street during a winter storm on February 1, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

Follow Yahoo Finance on TwitterFacebookInstagramFlipboardLinkedIn, and reddit.

Find live stock market quotes and the latest business and finance news

For tutorials and information on investing and trading stocks, check out Cashay

Continue Reading