Midday Update: Stocks Higher With Oil, But Gains Tempered by Earnings, Jobless Claims

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Wall Street Thursday was struggling to hold onto modest gains from this morning, with a rally for oil prices being offset by a larger-than-expected increase in weekly unemployment claims as well as lukewarm quarterly results from scores of companies on one of the busiest days of the current earnings season. Of the 10 S&P 500 sectors, energy stocks were outperforming the broader markets by almost 1% while defensive sectors like utilities and telecoms were underperforming.

Weekly jobless claims increased 17,000 to 274,000 during the week ended April 30, exceeding expectations for a gain of just 5,000. Today's data follows Wednesday's underwhelming 156,000 increase in private payrolls, and precedes the Labor Department's non-farm payroll report tomorrow.

Corporate earnings were a mixed bag, starting with Tesla ( TSLA ), with the electric-car manufacturer reporting a smaller-than-expected net loss and also issued an impressive sales goal of 500,000 per year by 2018. Chinese online marketplace Alibaba ( BABA ) also beat estimates but pharmaceutical giant Merck ( MRK ) issued mixed Q1 results and 2016 guidance that was in-line with street expectations.

Oil was on the plus side ifor a second straight day after massive wildfires in Canada and turmoil in Libya driving the price of West Texas Intermediate 3% higher, also providing a big push for energy stocks.

Overseas, equity markets finished mixed with the UK's FTSE squeezing out a slim gain close after an unexpected drop in the UK services sector index caused some weakness early this morning. The EU-zone Stoxx 50 closed in the red, giving up early gains tied to higher oil and upbeat earnings.

Crude oil was up $1.35 to $45.13 per barrel. Natural gas was down 6 cents to $2.08 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $3.10 to $1,277.60 per ounce, while silver was up 5 cents to $17.35 per ounce. Copper was down 3 cents to $2.16 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 2.46% to $11.06 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 2.79% to $6.74. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 2.37% to 23.97 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.24% to $121.91. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.09% to $16.48.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at mid-day:

NYSE Composite Index up 14.82 (+0.14%) to 10,301.06

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 37.91 (+0.21%) to 17,689.17

S&P 500 up 3.06 (+0.15%) to 2,054.18

Nasdaq Composite Index up 6.95 (+0.15%) to 4,732.59


Nikkei 225 Index down 3.11%

Hang Seng Index down 0.37%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.22%

FTSE 100 Index up 0.09%

CAC 40 down 0.11%

DAX up 0.24%


NYSE Energy Sector Index up 0.52%

NYSE Financial Sector Index down 0.07%

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.10%


(+) SYNC (+136.20%) Wins $100 million per year contract from AT&T ( T )

(+) AAWW (+27.21%) Beats EPS estimates on in-line revenue, said it will provide air cargo services to Amazon ( AMZN )

(+) EPE (+26.02%) Beat EPS estimates by 18 cents

(-) LGCY (+20.82%) Reported Q1 profit versus expectations for a loss

(+) FCEL (+6.45%) Announced partnership with Exxon (XOM) to use fuel cells to scrub carbon from power plants

(+) UNXL (+4.05%) Wins contract from Japanese PC maker


(-) PTX (-42.05%) Reported wider-than-expected Q1 loss on below-consensus revenue

(-) FRSH (-24.40%) Missed Q1 EPS and revenue estimates, weak comp store sales

(-) FIT (-15.26%) Expects Q2 earnings below street consensus

(-) EBIO (-8.53%) Q1 loss widens over year-ago period

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2016 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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