The S&P 500 and the Dow closed in the green on Thursday after the Fed disclosed plans to keep interest rates lower for a longer period of time. However, the Nasdaq slipped even after hitting an all-time intraday high.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) rose 160.35 points, or 0.6%, to close at 28,492.27and the S&P 500 rose 5.82 points, or 0.2% to close at 3,484.55. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 11,625.34, sliding 39.72 points, or 0.3%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) increased 5.2%, to close at 24.47. Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones for 1.05-to-1 ratio on the NYSE anda 1.30-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq favored decliners.
How Did the Benchmarks Perform?
On Thursday, the S&P 500 notched another record finish. Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, eight ended in the green, with a rally led by financials and real estate sectors. Both the sectors closed at least 1.4% higher for the day.
The blue-chip Dow raced to end in the positive, boosted by solid gains in the financial sector. Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM and American Express Company AXP closed 3% higher on Thursday. JPMorgan carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
However, the Nasdaq failed to hit another consecutive record high as top-performing tech and e-commerce stocks gave up momentum. Big names like Netflix, Inc. NFLX, Facebook, Inc. FB and eBay Inc. EBAY declined more than 3% for the day.
Overall, the S&P 500 posted 37 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq Composite recorded 58 new highs and 20 new lows.
Fed’s Policy of Average Inflation Targeting
On Thursday, the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the central bank formally agreed to a policy of average inflation targeting. This would imply that the central bank will let inflation run “moderately” above its 2% goal for the time being and keep economic recovery in the forefront. In the virtual Jackson Hole symposium Powell outlined that the central bank’s aggressive new strategy is to support the economy by lifting inflation and returning the economy to full employment.
Fed’s new strategy helped Treasury yields close higher and this in turn gave a boost to rate-sensitive financial sector. The S&P 500 and the Dow were boosted by solid gain in the financial sector.
Initial Jobless Claims Hit 1 million Again
On Thursday, the Labor Department reported that number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits came in at 1.006 million for the week ending Aug 22, a decrease of 98,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 1.104 million.
Initial claims marked the second consecutive week of more than 1 million tally but is lower than the consensus estimate of 1.008 million. Additionally, the Labor Department also reported that continuing claims fell slightly to 14.5 million.
Q2 GDP Revised Down Slightly
The government reported that the historic plunge in the gross domestic product in the second-quarter was revised down slightly to a 31.7% annual decline per the consensus estimate. The figures underline the impact of coronavirus pandemic on the economy. The report also specifies that consumer spending contracted by a revised 34.1% annually as hotels, restaurants and airlines were particularly hit hard during the quarter.
Business investments, and investment in structures and equipment saw a dramatic decline in the second quarter. Both fell by a more than 30% rate. Additionally, the inventory level also declined by $205.5 billion annually in the mentioned quarter.
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