Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up Thursday as investors responded positively to progress in the U.S.-China trade talks.
  • Lululemon Athletic  (LULU - Get Report) soared 14% after the sports apparel group posted solid fourth-quarter earnings.
  • Five Below (FIVE - Get Report) climbed 8.2% after posting stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks ended up for the day Thursday as investors reacted positively to progress in the U.S.-China trade talks and put aside, for now, worries over slowing U.S. growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 92 points, or 0.36%, to 25,717, the S&P 500 rose 0.36% and the Nasdaq climbed 0.34%.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrived in Beijing for another round of trade talks with Chinese officials. China is offering foreign technology firms better access to the country's fast-growing cloud-computing market, The Wall Street Journal reported. The plan is part of a package of offers on technology issues Chinese negotiators are expected to discuss with their U.S. counterparts during meetings scheduled for Friday, the Journal said, citing people briefed on the matter.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the United States could lift some tariffs on China, while leaving others in place as part of an enforcement mechanism on a U.S.-China trade deal, Reuters reported. Kudlow also said the trade talks could stretch for months, according to Bloomberg.

Benchmark government bond yields re-tested multi-month, and in some cases multi-year lows in overnight trading, with yields on paper from both Japan and German trading deeply in negative territory at the lowest levels since 2016 and putting more pressure on U.S. Treasury yields.

The U.S. economy slowed more than previously reported in the fourth quarter. Gross domestic product increased at a 2.2% annualized rate, the Commerce Department said, down from the 2.6% pace estimated in February.

"Global growth is stagnating both at home and abroad, and this kind of GDP read may flash as a warning signal to market-watchers that there is more turbulence ahead," said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*Trade. "Some may see this as a data point confirming their worries that we are headed to the end of the business cycle, especially after the inverted yield curve news last week. That said, there are a fair amount of positive indicators out there -- strong jobs numbers, an uptick in wages, and a solid earnings season -- to pump some confidence back into the market."

"The softer-than-expected finish to last year could not have come at a worse time given that the recent inversion in the yield curve sparked fears of a recession," said David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets UK. "Traders were already nervous about the state of the economy, and the report will fuel their fears. On the bright side, the jobless claims reading dropped to 211,000 from 216,000. The U.S. job market is in great shape a small movement in either direction is unlikely to upset the apple cart."

Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management, said "there was a lot of noise filtering through the data during the first quarter, including the government shutdown, and like the Fed, we think investors need to remain patient until economic data from the second and third quarter can determine whether U.S. GDP can remain above potential."

Pending home sales in the U.S. decreased 1% to 101.9 in February, down from 102.9 in January, the National Association of Realtors said. Year-over-year contract signings declined 4.9%, marking the 14th straight month of annual decreases.

Lululemon Athletic  (LULU - Get Report) soared 14% to $167.54 after the sports apparel group posted solid fourth-quarter earnings and said accelerating online sales would drive better-than-expected full-year profit. Earnings rose 39% from last year to $1.85 a share, ahead of the Wall Street forecast of $1.74. Revenue rose 26% to $1.17 billion, same-store sales jumped 16% and online shipments surged 37%.

Shares of Five Below  (FIVE - Get Report) climbed 8.2% to $129.80 after the discount retailer posted stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and forecast solid comparable-store sales heading into the spring season. Earnings totaled $1.59 a share, up 31.4% from a year earlier and 1 cent ahead of analysts' forecasts. Sales rose 19.4% to $602.6 million, just ahead of the $601 million estimate, while same-store sales grew 4.4%.

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Accenture (ACN - Get Report) rose 5.2% to $175.07 after reporting better-than-expected second-quarter earnings and increasing its full-year guidance. 

Nielsen Holdings (NLSN - Get Report) tumbled after the New York Post reported that private-equity company Blackstone Group (BX - Get Report) was bowing out of the bidding process for the TV ratings giant. Shares were down 11.2% to $23.66.


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