The First Slice for Friday, October 15, 2021

U.S. stocks closed significantly higher on Thursday as investors weighed upbeat earnings from big banks, as well as economic data that showed a drop in first-time jobless claims to a pandemic low and smaller-than-expected rise in producer prices.

  • The Dow closed up +534.75 or +1.56%
  • The S&P 500 advanced +74.46 or +1.71%
  • The Nasdaq finished up +251.79 or +1.73%

Corporate earnings reporting season is picking up steam, with results from a handful of major banks topping expectations. All 11 sectors of the S&P 500 index rose, with the materials and technology groups outpacing others.

The S&P 500 close put the index above its 50-day moving average for the first time in 12 trading days. For the Dow, Thursday’s close snapped a 25-day streak below its 50-day moving average.

Investors also cheered economic data, including a drop in first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week to 293,000 — the first sub-300,000 reading since before the pandemic took hold in early 2020.

In other U.S. data, producer prices rose 0.5% in September compared with 0.7% in August but were up 8.6% for the September year compared with 8.3% for the year to August.

Investors have also focused on the more benign elements of Wednesday’s consumer-price index report, which showed the core measure that excludes food and energy prices rising 0.2% in September, keeping the year-over-year growth rate at 4%.

Prices of airfares, hotels and used cars were among the costs that declined. Also Wednesday, minutes from the Federal Reserve’s September meeting affirmed that policy makers are likely to begin tapering monthly bond purchases before year-end.

  • Bank of America Corp. reported profit and revenues that topped expectations as it released $1.1 billion in reserves to its bottom line, driven primarily by asset quality improvements. Shares rose 4.5%. 
  • Shares of Wells Fargo & Co. declined 1.5% after the bank beat Wall Street estimates, while releasing $1.7 billion from loan-loss reserves
  • Morgan Stanley MS shares were 2.5% higher after the bank reported results that beat expectations, helped by a 68% rise in investment-banking revenue to $2.85 billion from $1.7 billion. 
  • Shares of Citigroup Inc. rose edged up 0.8% after the bank said earnings rose 48%, beating estimates. 
  • UnitedHealth Group Inc. shares rose almost 4.2% after the healthcare company and Dow component raised its guidance for full-year earnings, and said that its previous expectations for how Covid-19 will affect results this year remained steady. 
  • Shares of Domino’s Pizza Inc. rose 0.%, barely shaking off results that showed the pizza-delivery chain missed on revenues
  • Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance jumped 7.4% after the pharmacy retailer reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and sales that beat expectations
  • More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday, after rejecting a contract offer. Shares were up 0.3%. 
  • Oil futures rose, with the U.S. benchmark up 1.2% at $81.44 a barrel.
  • Gold futures edged up 0.2% to $1,798.40 an ounce.

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