Stock-index futures indicated the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 will open on track to end three consecutive days of gains as investors awaited a monetary-policy update from the Federal Reserve, which could offer fresh clues on the pace of rate increases.
How did the benchmarks perform?
Futures for the Dow
were down 56 points, or 0.2%, at 26,126, while S&P 500 index futures
declined by 8.9 points, or 0.3%, to 2,807.50 and Nasdaq-100 futures
fell 33 points, or 0.5%, to 7,186.
On Wednesday, the Dow
rose 545.25 points, or 2.1%, to 26,180, while the S&P 500
climbed 58.43 points, or 2.1%, to 2,813. The Nasdaq Composite Index
jumped 194.79 points, or 2.6%, to 7,570.75. All three indexes ended the day just shy of their intraday highs and booked their best daily gains in weeks.
Wednesday’s performance also marked the Dow and S&P 500’s best day since Oct. 16, while the Nasdaq enjoyed its best session since Oct. 25.
The Dow and S&P 500 have thus far risen on three straight sessions, while the Nasdaq has booked back-to-back advances.
What’s driving the market?
Stocks have been mostly buoyant in the past few days, with midterm election results removing on measure of uncertainty that had weighed on investor sentiment.
Although investors will continue to process the long-term implications of Democrats wresting control of the House and Republicans retaining a majority in the Senate—a widely expected outcome—fresh jitters around Fed policy will likely draw the lion’s share of Wall Street’s focus.
The Fed concludes its two-day policy sitdown at 2 p.m. Eastern Time Thursday, where it will likely delay a move to raise interest rates until December, but the central bank will deliver insights about the health of the economy, its expectations for inflation and any lingering effects of a protracted trade spat between the U.S. and China.
Meanwhile, quarterly earnings continue to roll in. Around 87% of companies in the S&P 500 have reported third-quarter results so far, with average earnings growth of over 25%, according to FactSet data. Investors fear that steady growth may not last for long, especially as expansion elsewhere in the world has stalled out.
One additional item on investors’ radar is White House drama, after Jeff Sessions resigned as attorney general Wednesday at the request of President Donald Trump.
Trump had repeatedly laid blame for the existence of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential connections between the Trump campaign and Russian interference into the 2016 election on Sessions.
Which stocks were in focus?
Shares of Tesla Inc.
were in focus after Robyn Denholm as its new chairman, replacing Chief Executive Elon Musk as the head of the board with a relative outsider who will face the difficult task of overseeing the maverick billionaire.
Shares of Arris International PLC
jumped in lightly traded premarket action Thursday after the cable-industry vendor said it was being acquired by CommScope Holding Co. Inc.
The stock is up 10.5% before the bell.
Shares of Cardinal Health Inc.
rallied 3% in premarket trade Thursday after the healthcare services company reported fiscal first-quarter profit and revenue that rose above expectations, boosted by strength in its pharmaceuticals business.
D.R. Horton Inc.
reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday that matched expectations, but revenue that came up shy, as rising prices and higher interest rates have led to some moderation in demand.
Shares of Monster Beverage Co.
dropped more than 11% in premarket trade, after CEO Rodney Sacks said in an earnings call with analysts that Coca-Cola Co.
planned to release two new competitor drinks.
Monster has entered into arbitration with Coca-Cola, its biggest shareholder, to determine whether Coca-Cola will be permitted to launch competitor drinks in April 2019, and the result of the dispute could have implications for whether or not Coke will fully acquire Monster, as some analysts have counseled.
Wynn Resorts Ltd.
stock dropped 14.9% before the bell Thursday, after an earnings call with analysts Wednesday evening in which CEO Matthew Maddox said he anticipates a “soft” market in the fourth quarter for its Macau business line.
Shares of Broadcom Inc.
were up 0.3% in premarket trade, after J.P. Morgan resumed coverage of the company, rating it overweight with a $325 price target. News was also published Thursday that the company laid off more than 300 workers at CA Technologies, which Broadcom acquired in a deal that closed on Monday,
Shares of Perrigo Co. Plc
are down 9.7%, following the release of third-quarter earnings before the bell Thursday.
L Brands Inc.
stock is up 5.7% in premarket trade, after the Victoria’s Secret parent company reported same-store sales growth of 4% for the four weeks ending Nov. 3rd, and raised its guidance for the third quarter. The company attributed the outperformance to its Bath & Body Works brand.
What are the strategist saying?
Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at Jones Trading, warned clients not to be comforted by the Wednesday rally, which, he argued in a research note, “has the hallmarks of bear market rally — a strong move on light volume thanks to a hollow catalyst.”
“Other market headwinds will be reasserting themselves soon enough,” O’Rourke wrote. “Did this market just rally sharply in reaction to a political election result on a day where the attorney general’s resignation potentially may place the nation on a path to a constitutional crisis? The catalyst is beginning to look even more hollow.”
“The central bank torch is now passed to the FOMC, which decides on policy later today. Expectations are for officials to remain on hold, but we expect them to keep the door wide open for a December hike,” wrote Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at multiasset investment firm JFD Brokers.
What data are ahead
First-time unemployment claims fell by 1,000 in the week ended Nov. 3 to 214,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was slightly higher than the 210,000 forecast by economists polled by MarketWatch. The total number of Americans collecting jobless benefits fell to its lowest level since the summer of 1973.
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