The S&P 500 index topped the 5,000 mark for the first time in history
Despite renewed uncertainty surrounding Fed rate cuts, US stocks stay buoyed to finish higher on Thursday. Investor sentiment remains upbeat due to strong earnings. So far, 64% of the S&P 500 have reported results, with more than 80% of those companies exceeding estimates. After briefly topping the 5,000 mark for the first time in history, the S&P 500 index retreated to finish just 0.06% higher. The Dow Jones rose 0.13%, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.24%.
On the data front, applications for US unemployment benefits decreased by 9,000 to 218,000 last week versus 220,000 expected. Initial claims fell for the first time in three weeks, suggesting the US job market remains remarkably solid.
In Asia, many regional markets were closed on Friday for the Lunar New Year holiday. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.07%. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.18% to retreat from session highs seen amid remarks by Bank of Japan Deputy Governor, who said the central bank will maintain its easy monetary policy stance even after ending its current negative benchmark rate. A day earlier, the index rose to 34-year highs.
In individual stocks, shares of SoftBank jumped more than 11% after recording a quarterly profit following four quarters of losses. In the fourth quarter, the company’s net income was $6.36 billion, far exceeding market estimates.
Meanwhile, European equities opened slightly higher on Friday, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 adding just 0.1% in early deals. On the data front, German inflation fell last month to 3.1%. Elsewhere, ECB Governing Council member Villeroy said that the central bank will probably cut rates this year. US stock index futures were marginally lower in early pre-market deals.
In currencies, the US dollar is holding steady ahead of the weekend, trading slightly above the 104.00 figure after facing resistance in the 104.60 zone earlier in the week. The USD index retreated from mid-November highs but stayed positive on the weekly timeframes, supported by strong economic data out of the US and elevated Treasury yields. On the downside, the immediate support now arrives at 104.00 while the nearest bullish barrier lies around 104.40.