Wall Street climbs as strong earnings offset slowdown worries, Fed meeting in focus

by mcardinal

U.S. stock indexes advanced on Friday after strong earnings updates from Exxon and Intel offset worries over Amazon’s slowdown warning, while economic data reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve would hike interest rates next week.

Exxon Mobil Corp shares finished up 1.3% after hitting an all-time high as the oil company reported a record first-quarter profit on rising oil and gas output, also boosting the S&P energy index 1.5%.

Chipmaker Intel Corp gained 4% after it said gross margins will improve in the second half.

Yet Amazon.com Inc fell 4% in its biggest one-day loss since early February despite better-than-expected quarterly results, as it signaled its cloud computing business growth would slow further. It weighed on the consumer discretionary index, which finished down 0.04%.

After the market close, First Republic Bank tumbled 49% to $1.77 after reports the regional lender was headed for receivership. That was after the bank’s 43% decline in the regular trading session.

But the benchmark S&P 500 advanced for the week as well as the day and registered a second consecutive monthly gain. It was helped by better-than-expected earnings from megacap companies including Alphabet Inc, Microsoft Corp and Meta Platforms Inc.

“This week’s earnings overall were better than people expected. There was a lot of pessimism going in but the past week has brought home the fact that it’s not turning into a bad earnings season at all,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He said that investors may still be cautious ahead of Apple Inc’s results due next week and the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting and the U.S. jobs report for April.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 272 points, or 0.8%, to 34,098.16, the S&P 500 gained 34.13 points, or 0.83%, to 4,169.48 and the Nasdaq Composite added 84.35 points, or 0.69%, to 12,226.58.

The CBOE volatility index, otherwise known as “Wall Street’s fear gauge”, closed down 1.25 points at 15.78, which was its lowest close since Nov. 2021.

For the month the S&P rose 1.5% while the Dow added 2.5% and the Nasdaq was barely higher. For the week the S&P rose 0.9% in line with the Dow’s weekly gain and the Nasdaq rose 1.3%.

Among the S&P 500’s 11 industry sectors, the biggest gainer was energy while the biggest decliner was Utilities, which fell 0.2%.

The economically sensitive Dow Transportation index closed up 1.6% for the day but lost 2.7% for the week.

Analysts now expect first-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies to fall 1.9% from a year ago compared with a 5.1% fall expected at the start of April, according to Refinitiv data.

John Praveen, co-CIO at Paleo Leon Inc in Princeton, NJ said Friday’s economic data solidified expectations ahead of next week’s Fed meeting and eased fears about a sharp slowdown.

Data showed U.S. consumer spending unchanged in March, while underlying inflation pressures remained strong, feeding expectations the Fed will hike interest rates by 25 basis points next week.

Other data showed first-quarter U.S. economic growth slowed more than expected while plunging consumer confidence in April heightened fears of a recession.

The Fed issued a detailed and scathing assessment of its failure to identify problems and push for fixes at Silicon Valley Bank before the U.S. lender’s collapse, and promised tougher supervision and stricter rules for banks.

While the S&P 500 bank index closed up 1.1%, shares in First Republic tumbled in the regular session and after the close. A person familiar with the matter told Reuters the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was preparing to place First Republic under receivership imminently because there was no more time to pursue a private-sector rescue.

Snapchat-owner Snap Inc dived 17% after it warned next quarter’s results could miss Wall Street targets, while Pinterest Inc shares sank 15.7% after the image-sharing platform forecast second-quarter revenue growth below estimates.

Cloudflare Inc tumbled 21% on a downbeat revenue forecast from the cloud services provider, while Colgate-Palmolive Co climbed 2.4% after lifting its annual organic sales forecast betting on consistent price hikes.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.00-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.91-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 66 new highs and 136 new lows.

On U.S. exchanges 11.32 billion shares changed hands compared with the 10.46 billion average for the last 20 sessions.

Copyright 2023 Thomson/Reuters