Wall Street struggled for direction on Thursday afternoon after the GOP scored a narrow victory in vote on health care in the House.
The S&P 500 gained 0.06%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.04% and the Nasdaq rose 0.05%.
A House vote to pass an amended health care bill passed the necessary threshold on Thursday afternoon. More than 216 House Republicans voted 'yes' on the Affordable Care Act repeal-and-replace bill. The bill will now be placed on the Senate floor for a vote.
The bill has not yet been evaluated by the Congressional Budget Office, meaning lawmakers do not know how much it will cost and how many people it could throw off of health insurance.
The passage of health care reform is seen as a litmus test for how effective this administration can be. Donald Trump promised massive tax reform and infrastructure spending on the campaign trail. So far, his administration's details of proposed tax changes have been scant.
"This is a good first step toward demonstrating that the Republican majority can come together and compromise on legislation," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Cornerstone Financial Partners. "The broader implication for the market at large is the increased likelihood that tax reform can be passed sooner rather than later. This is the main takeaway and is a positive sign for equities to move higher this year."
Crude oil held onto severe losses that put commodities at their worst levels in months. Crude oil prices were sharply lower on concerns over global oversupply. U.S. inventories fell at a smaller than expected pace in the past week, while U.S. oil production rose for its eleventh straight week.
"Since the start of the year alone U.S. oil output has risen by 520,000 barrels per day," Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at FOREX.com, wrote in a note. "This was always going to happen after we had seen sharp and consistent increases in the rig counts as oil prices recovered. But inventories have started to fall back in the past several weeks. If the falls could be sustained, this could put a floor under slumping oil prices in the coming weeks."
Risks to Libyan production eased, threatening to destabilize the slow progress towards a global supply balance. Two of the largest factions in Libya have made progress toward a deal to resolve political unrest and economic conflicts, according to the BBC. Recent conflicts had caused shutdowns at several of Libya's largest oilfields.
West Texas Intermediate crude fell 4.8% to $45.52 a barrel on Thursday, its lowest settlement since November 29.
Energy shares were the worst performers on Thursday. Major oil producers including Exxon Mobil (XOM) - Get Report , Chevron (CVX) - Get Report , PetroChina (PTR) - Get Report , Schlumberger (SLB) - Get Report and Petrobras (PBR) - Get Report were sharply lower on Thursday, while the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) - Get Report fell 1.9%.
Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report fell 5% after reporting a triple-digit increase in revenue, though a far wider quarterly loss than expected. The electric automaker reported a loss of $1.33 a share, far steeper than an anticipated loss of 81 cents a share. Revenue surged 134.8% to $2.7 billion, $90 million above consensus. Over the first quarter, Tesla made a record 25,051 deliveries. Tesla said initial production of its Model 3 was on track for July.
Facebook (FB) - Get Reportwas also lower despite better-than-expected earnings over the quarter. Net income of $1.04 a share beat estimates by 17 cents thanks to strong ad sales growth and a steady increase in its active user base. Sales surged 49.3% to $8.03 billion, $200 million higher than anticipated. Ad revenue increased 51% to $7.86 billion, while monthly active users grew 18%.
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Media stocks were sharply lower on Thursday after worrisome advertising trends from some of the industry's top companies. Viacom (VIAB) - Get Report and AMC Networks (AMCX) - Get Reporteach posted a drop in ad revenue over their recent quarter, a day after Time Warner (TWX) saw the same. Other media stocks in the red on Thursday included Comcast (CMCSA) - Get Report , Twenty-First CenturyFox (FOXA) - Get Report , CBS (CBS) - Get Report , and Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Report .
Factory orders in March grew at half the pace expected by analysts. The Census Bureau reported a 0.2% increase in March, down from a revised 1.2% increase in February and below consensus of 0.4%. Excluding transportation, orders fell 0.3%. New orders for manufactured goods have risen in eight of the past nine months.
Jobless claims sank in the past week, holding at multi-year lows. The number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 19,000 to 238,000, beating an estimated decrease to 246,000. The less volatile, four-week claims average increased by 750 to 243,000. The four-week continuing claims average sat at its lowest in nearly thirty years.
U.S. productivity in the first quarter fell by 0.6%, while output rose 1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of hours worked increased 1.6% over the period from January to March and unit-labor costs gained 3%.
Wall Street was also looking ahead to the release Friday of the nonfarm payrolls report. Analysts polled by FactSet anticipate data to show 185,000 jobs to have been added to the U.S. economy in April and for the unemployment rate to tick up 10 basis points to 4.6%. Average hourly earnings are expected to grow 0.3%. The U.S. added 235,000 and 98,000 jobs over February and March, respectively, the first full two months under Donald Trump's presidency.
"We believe the previous [March] number was more affected by weather, particularly in the northeast and midwest causing somewhat of an aberration," Tony Bedikian, head of global markets for Citizens Bank, told TheStreet. "The market is anticipating and expecting a bounceback here."
Fitbit (FIT) - Get Report surged 12% after exceeding estimates on its top- and bottom-line. The fitness tracker company reported a net loss of 15 cents a share, 3 cents narrower than expected. Revenue slumped nearly 41% to $298.9 million, $18 million above forecasts.
Square (SQ) - Get Report climbed 9% on a better-than-expected first quarter and a surprise profit. Quarterly earnings of a nickel a share surprised analysts looking for a net loss of 8 cents a share. Sales climbed 21.7% to $461.55 million, $10.9 million higher than targeted.
Kraft Heinz (KHC) - Get Report fell short of earnings expectations over its first quarter. Adjusted profit of 84 cents a share came in 2 cents shy of targets, while revenue of $6.36 billion missed estimates by $100 million. CEO Bernando Hees said it was a slow start to the year, but that the company remains "on track with our key initiatives."
Kellogg (K) - Get Report reported a drop in first-quarter revenue on weaker sales in North America. Sales declined 4.4% to $3.25 billion, falling short of a target of $3.28 billion. Sales dropped in morning foods and snack segments in the U.S. For the full year, Kellogg anticipates earnings of $3.91 to $3.97 a share, in-line with estimates of $3.93.
U.S. stocks pared losses heading into the close Wednesday after the Federal Reserve showed it still had faith in the integrity of the U.S. economic recovery. In a statement following the Fed's May meeting, members of the Federal Open Market Committee noted that economic had slowed, though fundamentals remained solid. The committee viewed slowing growth in the first quarter as transitory.
"What is really saving the market is the suppressed volatility," said James "Rev Shark" Deporre of yesterday's moves on our premium site Real Money. "There just isn't much movement to stir up stronger emotions. There is no reason to be greedy or fearful when the S&P 500 barely has a pulse."
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