Wall Street's longest winning streak in a quarter century came to a close on Thursday as investors took a breather after five days of records.
The S&P 500 fell 0.09% and the Nasdaq fell 0.08%. The Dow scored a small gain of 0.04%, its sixth consecutive record close.
Markets had little reason to push higher after climbing to new heights over the past five sessions. The S&P 500 had risen 2.4% from last Thursday to Wednesday, while the Dow climbed 2.7%.
The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended Wednesday with their fifth record close in a row, the longest record-making streak since a six-session stretch from late 1991 to early 1992. Donald Trump has largely been given credit for recent gains as he continues to tempt investors with details of a forthcoming tax plan. So far, no details of the president's self-described "massive" tax reform have been divulged, though.
Trump nominated Alexander Acosta, dean of Florida International University College of Law and former member of the National Labor Relations Board, to lead the Department of Labor. His nomination comes less than 24 hours after his original pick Andrew Puzder stepped down. Trump announced the decision to nominate Acosta as Labor Secretary at a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.
Trump also said his team would submit a health care proposal in March. The highly-anticipated tax reform plan would be submitted afterwards, Trump told reporters.
Initial jobless claims rose at a slower-than-expected pace in the past week, confirming strength in the U.S. labor market. The number of new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 5,000 to 239,000 in the past week, according to the Labor Department. Analysts expected claims to rise to 245,000. The less-volatile, four-week average climbed by 500 to 245,250.
Housing starts declined in January, while permits increased. Starts in the U.S. fell 2.6% in January to an annual rate of 1.25 million. Starts were expected to come in at 1.22 million following a rate of 1.23 million in December. Permits rose by 4.6% to 1.29 million.
Business conditions in the Philadelphia region significantly improved in the past month. The Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey jumped to a reading of 43.3 in February compared to 23.6 in January. The measure hit its highest level since 1984 this month.
The chances of a mid-year interest rate hike grow more likely as a string of Federal Reserve members trumpet a hawkish case. The latest, Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer, said the Fed is moving toward removing its accommodative monetary policy. The Fed expects the economy to move "closer to the 2% inflation rate and that the labor market would continue to strengthen," he told Bloomberg. "If those two things happen we'll be on the (policy) path that we more or less expected."
The Fed previously predicted three interest rate hikes this year, a possibility becoming more and more likely after hawkish Fedspeak on Wednesday. Futures indicate markets expect a 43% chance of at least three hikes this year, according to CME Group. The chances of at least three moves in 2017 sat at 33% on Monday.
Networking giant Cisco Systems (CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report rose 2.3% after beating earnings estimates and raising its dividend. Adjusted earnings of 57 cents a share in its fiscal second quarter came in a penny above estimates. Revenue slid 2% to $11.58 billion, higher than consensus of $11.55 billion. Cisco lifted its quarterly dividend to 29 cents from 26 cents.
For the April quarter, Cisco guided for revenue to be flat to down 2%, and for earnings in the range of 57 cents to 59 cents a share, in line with consensus estimates.
"All in, while we view the quarter as relatively in line, we believe this was enough to keep investors satisfied with the recent rally in shares when considering the opportunities that lie ahead, not only within the business (the transformation has shown continued strength, driven by software and security) but also in terms of the macro (tax reform and repatriation)," said Jim Cramer and the AAP team, which holds shares of Cisco in Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio.
Wendy's (WEN) - Get Wendy's Company Report fell 4.5% as earnings and sales slipped over its fourth quarter. Adjusted earnings of 8 cents a share dipped from 12 cents in the year-ago quarter, while revenue slid 33% to $309.9 million. Analysts were expecting earnings of 9 cents a share on $308.5 million in sales. The fast food chain is working to reduce company-operated stores, having cut locations by 5% over its recent quarter and selling to franchisees.
CBS (CBS) - Get CBS Corporation Class B Report swung to a loss in its recent quarter on lower ratings at the network. Advertising revenue slid 2.8% to $1.8 billion, largely tied to three fewer Thursday Night Football airings. The network posted a loss of 26 cents a share over the quarter compared to profit of 55 cents a year earlier. Adjusted earnings of $1.11 a share beat consensus of $1.10.
Kraft Heinz (KHC) - Get Kraft Heinz Company (KHC) Report declined 4% after reporting an across-the-board dip in quarterly sales. Revenue in the U.S. slid 3.1% to $4.8 billion, while Canada sales dipped 2.4% and European sales declined 13.3%. Adjusted earnings of 91 cents a share exceeded estimates by 4 cents.
Kate Spade (KATE) surged 14% after announcing plans to explore strategic alternatives. The handbag company hired Perella Weinberg Partners as consultants to investigate its options. Kate spade also blew past earnings estimates in its recent quarter. Profit of 66 cents a share came in far higher than consensus of 34 cents. Sales of $470.8 million came in below estimates of $472 million.
Dean Foods (DF) - Get Dean Foods Company Report fell 8% after falling short of fourth-quarter estimates. Adjusted earnings of 38 cents a share missed consensus by 3 cents, while revenue of $2.02 billion was flat from a year earlier. Total volume slid 0.8%, though U.S. fluid milk volume rose 0.1%. Dean Foods anticipates first-quarter earnings no higher than 20 cents, half what analysts expected.