US stocks hover near records as investors digest strong corporate earnings

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

  • US equities wavered near all-time highs as investors weighed healthy earnings results, positive economic data, and falling daily COVID-19 infections.
  • Salesforce.com, Urban Outfitters, and HP Enterprise all gained after beating Wall Street estimates for quarterly profits.
  • US durable goods orders gained 11.2% in July, according to the Census Bureau. The reading trounces economists’ 4.8% estimate and signals continued recovery in the nation’s manufacturing industry.
  • Oil prices climbed. West Texas Intermediate crude increased as much as 0.7%, to $43.67 per barrel.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US stocks fluctuated near record highs as investors mulled better-than-expected earnings reports and strong economic data.

Salesforce.com blew estimates out of the water on Tuesday, trouncing expectations for quarterly profits and revenue. The company – soon to be a member of the 30-stock Dow Jones industrial average – also raised its forecast for 2020 revenue, citing a wave of tech upgrades prompted by the work-from-home shift.

Urban Outfitters and HP Enterprise also gained on healthy quarterly results.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET market open on Wednesday: 

  • S&P 500: 3,447.40, up 0.1%
  • Dow Jones industrial average: 28,243.85, down 0.1% (5 points)
  • Nasdaq composite: 11,512.32, up 0.4%

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On the economic data front, US durable goods orders jumped 11.2% in July on strong auto demand, according to the Census Bureau. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg anticipated growth of just 4.8% following June’s 7.7% gain. The release signals continued recovery in the nation’s manufacturing industry, though figures remain well below pre-pandemic highs.

“This won’t be recovered anytime soon, given the continued depression in fleet auto sales, even though private consumers are buying as many cars and trucks as before the pandemic,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite indexes notched record closes in the previous session. They’ve rallied throughout the week on positive economic data, improved US-China relations, and falling new COVID-19 cases in the US.

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On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the central bank’s annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming conference. The speech is expected to lay out the Fed’s plans to keep interest rates low for several years and reveal a new strategy for maintaining inflation at its 2% target. Investors will watch closely for any signs of additional monetary support to expedite the US economic rebound.

Spot gold fell as much as 1.3%, to just above $1,900 as the precious metal continued to trade near all-time highs. The popular hedging asset has attempted to retake $2,000 in several sessions but has yet to climb above the threshold as investors secure profits and shift cash back to risk assets.

Oil prices climbed. West Texas Intermediate crude rose as much as 0.7%, to $43.67 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s global benchmark, increased 0.5%, to $46.10, at intraday highs.

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