U.S. stock indexes are wavering between small gains and losses in morning trading Thursday as investors size up earnings from several major banks and new economic data. Technology stocks led the gainers, while energy companies were down the most. Trading was light ahead of the long Easter holiday weekend.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,346 as of 11:16 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 1 point to 20,589. The Nasdaq composite index gained 14 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,850. More stocks fell than rose on the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. markets will be closed Friday for the Good Friday holiday.
THE QUOTE: “I’d anticipate it’s going to be a fairly light run coming into the end of the week here,” said Paul Springmeyer, senior portfolio manager at the Private Client Reserve at U.S. Bank.
BANK ON IT: Several banks were trading higher after reporting better-than-expected results thanks to improved revenue from trading and rising interest rates. Citigroup rose 78 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $59.29, while JPMorgan Chase gained 66 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $86.06. PNC Financial Services added $2.18, or 1.9 percent, to $118.18.
BUFFETT EFFECT: Wells Fargo slid 1.9 percent after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sold some of its stock in the lender to avoid being designated a bank holding company. Wells also reported flat quarterly earnings, reflecting continuing struggles to recover from its sales practice scandal. The stock gave up 99 cents to $52.13.
BAD QUARTER: Pier 1 Imports slumped 7 percent after the home decor retailer reported disappointing sales. The stock slid 50 cents to $6.75.
ECONOMIC DATA: The Labor Department said that its producer price index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach consumers, fell 0.1 percent in March. That’s the first drop since August and reflects falling energy prices. Producer prices were up 2.3 percent in March from a year earlier, the sharpest annual increase in five years. The Labor Department also reported that the number of applications for unemployment benefits declined last week.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany’s DAX slid 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC-40 shed 0.6 percent. London’s FTSE-100 lost 0.3 percent. In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.7 percent and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.7 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 0.2 percent after a report showed China’s export growth accelerated in March, while import growth cooled. Seoul’s Kospi added 0.9 percent.
CURRENCIES: The dollar continued to weaken a day after President Donald Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the dollar was “getting too strong” and that he won’t declare China a currency manipulator. The remarks helped push the yen to its highest level since mid-November, just after the presidential election. The dollar slid to 109.20 yen from 109.71 yen late Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.0629 from $1.0598.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 4 cents to $53.15 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 19 cents to $55.67 per barrel in London. The market took in its stride a report by the International Energy Agency saying that demand growth for oil will slow for a second consecutive year this year.
TREASURY YIELDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year note rose to 2.25 percent from 2.24 percent late Wednesday.
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