Stock Market Today – 8/4: Stocks Edge Higher as Investors Assess Earnings and Await Jobs Data

U.S. stock-index futures were moderately higher on Thursday ahead of additional earnings reports as well as key economic numbers that will provide further clarity on the direction of the economy and whether the Federal Reserve’s inflation-fighting rate hikes are proving effective.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were 0.32%, or 105 points higher, while S&P 500 futures dipped 0.21% and Nasdaq 100 futures were flat. U.S. government debt prices traded lower as investors looked past ongoing geopolitical tensions between China and Taiwan and braced for Friday’s July nonfarm payrolls report.

As of 7 a.m. ET, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note dropped to 2.734% while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond fell to 2.974%. Yields move inversely to prices.

Investors will get a read on the number of new applications for U.S. unemployment benefits at 8:30 a.m. ET. They are estimated to have edged lower in the week ended July 30. The U.S. trade deficit is forecast to have narrowed in June, for the third consecutive month.

The key economic number will come Friday, however, when July’s nonfarm payrolls report is released. Analysts polled by FactSet are expecting 250,000 new jobs were added to the economy last month following June’s 372,000 gain.

Market-watchers are looking for signs that the U.S. labor market, which has remained resilient despite rising rates and a corresponding slowdown in economic growth, will allow the Fed to ease back on its aggressive interest-rate increases. 

The Fed last raised its benchmark Fed funds rate by 75 basis points in a move to tamp down surging prices for goods and services, which have accelerated in the wake of the pandemic and moves by the Fed and other central banks to make borrowing cheap in an effort to kick-start growth.

The Bank of England is expected to raise its key interest rate, to 1.75% from 1.25%, at 7 a.m. ET. It is also expected to outline plans to sell government bonds acquired during its stimulus programs. That would make it the first major central bank to reverse the process by selling bonds rather than by letting them mature and not reinvesting the proceeds.

The British pound edged up 0.4% to $1.2190.

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Companies expected to report earnings Thursday include Eli Lilly  (LLY) – Get Eli Lilly and Company Report, Kellogg  (K) – Get Kellogg Company Report, Nikola  (NKLA) – Get Nikola Corporation Report, Apollo Global Management  (APO) – Get Apollo Global Management Inc. (New) Report and ConocoPhillips  (COP) – Get ConocoPhillips Report. Lyft  (LYFT) – Get Lyft Inc. Report, Beyond Meat  (BYND) – Get Beyond Meat Inc. Report, Carvana  (CVNA) – Get Carvana Co. Class A Report, Virgin Galactic  (SPCE) – Get Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. Report and meme stock mascot AMC Entertainment  (AMC) – Get AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. Class A Report are scheduled to report their results after the closing bell.

Ahead of Thursday’s market open, shares of Lucid Group  (LCID) – Get Lucid Group Inc. Report fell more than 12% after the electric-vehicle maker cut its forecast for car production. Clorox  (CLX) – Get Clorox Company (The) Report lost 6.1% after the cleaning-product manufacturer posted flat revenue for its latest quarter.

Other stocks in the red on Thursday included Hostess Brands  (TWNK) – Get Hostess Brands Inc. Report, which was down 3.6% in premarket trading after the Twinkie maker reported higher profit and revenue during the recent quarter but noted tighter margins due to higher expenses.

Shares of Walmart  (WMT) – Get Walmart Inc. Report were down 0.58% after The Wall Street Journal reported the company plans to cut hundreds of corporate roles in a restructuring effort, a week after warning of falling profits. 

On the positive side, shares of Alibaba  (BABAF)  jumped more than 7% after the online e-commerce giant reported fiscal first-quarter earnings that beat expectations.

Casino operator MGM Resorts  (MGM) – Get MGM Resorts International Report were up more than 2.4% after it reported a 44% increase in revenue in the second quarter, led by surging business and travel activity in Las Vegas.

Shares of Tesla, meantime, were up 1.5% ahead of a shareholder vote that is expected to clear the way for the EV maker to complete its second stock split in about two years.

Tesla, whose stock price has roughly tripled in the past two years, is planning a 3-for-1 stock split that it has said is designed to make ownership more accessible to employees and individual investors.

The proposal is among more than a dozen facing investor consideration at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting, scheduled to be held at the company’s Austin, Texas-area factory at 4:30 p.m. CT.

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