Stocks Rise Before the Open as Investors Await U.S. Economic Data and Fed Speak, Walmart Earnings on Tap

June S&P 500 E-Mini futures (ESM24) are up +0.08%, and June Nasdaq 100 E-Mini futures (NQM24) are up +0.17% this morning as investors looked ahead to a new round of U.S. economic data, remarks from Fed officials, and an earnings report from retail giant Walmart.

In yesterday’s trading session, Wall Street’s major averages ended higher, with the benchmark S&P 500, blue-chip Dow, and tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 notching all-time highs. Dell Technologies (DELL) climbed over +11% after Morgan Stanley raised its price target on the stock to $152 from $128. Also, chip stocks gained ground, with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Broadcom (AVGO) advancing more than +4%. In addition, Monday.com (MNDY) surged over +21% after the company reported upbeat Q1 results and raised its full-year guidance for revenue and adjusted operating profit. On the bearish side, Walt Disney (DIS) fell more than -2% and was the top percentage loser on the Dow after CEO Iger remarked that marketing expenses at Disney+ are too high and the company is “dramatically” reducing content spending in linear television.

The Labor Department’s report on Wednesday showed consumer prices rose +0.3% m/m in April, lower than the predicted figure of +0.4% m/m. On an annual basis, headline inflation eased to +3.4% in April from +3.5% in March, in line with expectations. Also, the core CPI, which excludes volatile food and fuel prices, eased to +3.6% y/y in April, in line with expectations and the smallest increase in 3 years. In addition, U.S. April retail sales were unchanged m/m, weaker than expectations of +0.4% m/m, while U.S. core retail sales rose +0.2% m/m in April, right on expectations. Finally, the U.S. NY Empire State manufacturing index arrived at -15.60 in May, weaker than expectations of -9.90.

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari reiterated on Wednesday that the U.S. central bank probably needs to maintain interest rates at their current level for “a while longer” and raised doubts about how much they’re restraining the U.S. economy. “The biggest uncertainty in my mind is how much downward pressure is monetary policy putting on the economy. That’s an unknown - we don’t know for sure,” Kashkari said. “And that tells me we probably need to sit here for a while longer until we figure out where underlying inflation is headed before we jump to any conclusions.”

Meanwhile, U.S. rate futures have priced in a 2.9% probability of a 25 basis point rate cut at the June FOMC meeting and a 30.2% chance of a 25 basis point rate cut at the July FOMC meeting.

On the earnings front, notable companies like Walmart (WMT), Applied Materials (AMAT), Deere (DE), Take-Two Interactive (TTWO), and Under Armour (UAA) are slated to release their quarterly results today.

On the economic data front, all eyes are focused on the U.S. Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index in a couple of hours. Economists, on average, forecast that the May Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index will stand at 7.7, compared to the previous value of 15.5.

Also, investors are likely to focus on U.S. Industrial Production data, which came in at +0.4% m/m in March. Economists foresee the April figure to be +0.1% m/m.

The U.S. Building Permits (preliminary) and Housing Starts data for April will be reported today. Economists forecast Building Permits to be 1.480M and Housing Starts to be 1.420M.

U.S. Manufacturing Production data will come in today. Economists expect April’s figure to be +0.1% m/m, compared to the previous number of +0.5% m/m.

U.S. Export and Import Price Indexes for April will also be closely watched today. Economists anticipate the export price index to stand at +0.4% m/m and the import price index to arrive at +0.2% m/m.

U.S. Initial Jobless Claims data will be reported today as well. Economists estimate this figure to be 219K, compared to last week’s value of 231K.

In addition, market participants will be looking toward a batch of speeches from Fed officials Barr, Harker, Mester, and Bostic. 

In the bond market, the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note is at 4.342%, down -0.25%.

The Euro Stoxx 50 futures are down -0.24% this morning as investors digested some disappointing corporate earnings reports. Automobile and energy stocks underperformed on Thursday, while insurance stocks gained ground. Final data from the statistical office Istat showed Thursday that Italy’s annual inflation rate cooled more than expected in April. Meanwhile, a series of European Central Bank policymakers are scheduled to speak later in the day, with investors pricing in almost fully the likelihood of three rate cuts for the year, starting in June. In corporate news, Ubisoft Entertainment Sa (UBI.P.DX) slumped over -14% after the video game company reported mixed full-year results and offered lackluster FY25 guidance. Also, Easyjet Plc (EZJ.LN) slid more than -6% after the low-cost airline reported a larger-than-expected pretax loss for the first half of the year. At the same time, Swiss Re Ag (SREN.Z.IX) gained over +3% after reporting better-than-expected Q1 net profit.

Italy’s CPI data was released today.

The Italian April CPI has been reported at +0.1% m/m and +0.8% y/y, weaker than expectations of +0.2% m/m and +0.9% y/y.

Asian stock markets today closed in the green. China’s Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) closed up +0.08%, and Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Index (NIK) closed up +1.39%.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index closed slightly higher today, buoyed by measures implemented by local Chinese governments to bolster the property market. Property stocks outperformed on Thursday as optimism grew regarding Beijing’s potential policy support for purchasing unsold homes from struggling builders. Bloomberg News said on Wednesday that China is contemplating a proposal to have local governments purchase millions of unsold homes. Meanwhile, sentiment also got a boost with news on Wednesday that officials in Hangzhou declared intentions to start purchasing existing homes and renting them out as affordable housing, while similar plans were unveiled on Thursday in the far western city of Dali. Separately, Hefei announced that it would offer homebuyers subsidies equivalent to 2% of the value of purchased homes. On the negative side, the U.S. pushed a bill aimed at restricting Chinese biotechnology firms’ access to U.S. healthcare data. Investors’ focus is now directed toward the release of a raft of Chinese economic data for April, including fixed asset investment, unemployment, industrial production, and retail sales, scheduled for Friday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Index closed higher today, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street as easing U.S. inflation kept hopes for Fed rate cuts later this year, while investors also digested domestic growth data. Gains in technology stocks led the overall market higher on Thursday. Preliminary data released by the Cabinet Office on Thursday indicated that Japan’s economy contracted in the first quarter due to a decrease in private consumption, posing challenges for the Bank of Japan as it deliberates on the timing of its next interest rate hike. Separately, data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry revealed on Thursday that Japan’s industrial production was revised higher in March, marking the steepest growth in industrial output since June 2022. Meanwhile, the yen climbed to its highest level against the dollar in over a week on Thursday, adding to Wednesday’s 1% advance. In corporate news, Nippon Paint Holdings rose over +5% after the company reported an almost 20% increase in attributable profit in the three months ended March 31st. At the same time, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group slid more than -4% following the company’s projection of only marginal profit growth for the current financial year. The Nikkei Volatility, which takes into account the implied volatility of Nikkei 225 options, closed down -5.75% to 17.39.

“The BOJ can’t ignore these GDP numbers. This is not at all the kind of situation where they can raise interest rates again right away. I don’t think they can move in July. They will have to wait for second quarter GDP data to come out in August,” said Nobuyasu Atago, chief economist at Rakuten Securities Economic Research Institute. 

The Japanese GDP arrived at -0.5% q/q and -2.0% y/y in the first quarter, weaker than expectations of -0.3% q/q and -1.5% y/y.

The Japanese March Industrial Production came in at +4.4% m/m, stronger than expectations of +3.8% m/m.

Pre-Market U.S. Stock Movers

AST SpaceMobile (ASTS) soared about +36% in pre-market trading after announcing a commercial agreement with AT&T to provide satellite broadband to everyday cell phones.

Chubb (CB) surged more than +11% in pre-market trading after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed a $6.7 billion stake in the insurer.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) climbed over +4% in pre-market trading after the networking giant reported better-than-expected Q3 results and raised its full-year revenue guidance.

Intel (INTC) gained about +0.7% in pre-market trading after Wolfe Research upgraded the stock to Peer Perform from Underperform.

Spire Global (SPIR) tumbled more than -21% in pre-market trading after the company posted downbeat Q1 results and slashed its annual guidance.

Texas Instruments (TXN) fell about -1% in pre-market trading after Wells Fargo initiated coverage of the stock with an Underweight rating and $150 price target.

You can see more pre-market stock movers here

Today’s U.S. Earnings Spotlight: Thursday - May 16th

Walmart (WMT), Applied Materials (AMAT), Deere&Company (DE), Copart (CPRT), Take-Two (TTWO), ADS (WMS), Globant SA (GLOB), Flowers Foods (FLO), iQIYI (IQ), Doximity (DOCS), DXC Technology (DXC), Under Armour (UAA), Lightspeed Commerce (LSPD), Canada Goose (GOOS), Global Ship Lease (GSL), Despegar.com (DESP), Gambling.com Group (GAMB), EDAP (EDAP).

More Stock Market News from Barchart

On the date of publication, Oleksandr Pylypenko did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. All information and data in this article is solely for informational purposes. For more information please view the Barchart Disclosure Policy here.

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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