U.S. stocks traded mixed Thursday, while oil prices and Treasury bond yields eased, as markets looked away from inflation pressures and into the underlying strength of the American consumer heading into the fast-approaching holiday season.
Stronger-than-expected October retail sales, solid January-quarter outlooks from giants such as Walmart (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report, Target (TGT) - Get Target Corporation Report and Home Depot (HD) - Get Home Depot, Inc. (HD) Report and consistently improving labor market data suggest robust holiday spending should drive economic growth over the fourth quarter, lending credence to both the strength of the quarterly earnings season and the near record-high levels for U.S. stocks.
Much better-than-expected third quarter reports from department store stalwarts Macy's (M) - Get Macy's Inc Report and Kohl's (KSS) - Get Kohl's Corporation (KSS) Report added to the theme, while Nvidia's impressive outlook and metaverse projects gave a solid boost to the tech sector.
Reports suggesting a coordinated release of petroleum reserves by the U.S. and China also eased some near-term inflation worries, as did a pullback in benchmark Treasury note yields and an easing of the dollar on global foreign exchange markets.
The request from President Joe Biden comes amid near-record gas prices in the United States and an ongoing energy crunch in China that has hit factory output and added new pressures to global supply chains. OPEC, in the meantime, has stuck to its plans for only a modest paring of production cuts, which have been in place for much of the past five years.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was marked 95 points lower by mid-day trading, while the S&P 500 gained 10 points. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite gained 65 point gain as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields edged lower, to 1.584%, in New York trading.
WTI futures for December delivery were marked 21 cents lower on the session at $78.15 each while Brent crude contracts for January, the global benchmark, fell 44 cents to $79.84 per barrel.
Nvidia shares surged 10% after the chipmaker posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings and gave an upbeat near-term outlook.
The Dow was also getting a modest boost from Boeing (BA) - Get Boeing Company Report shares, which gained 0.5% after analysts at JPMorgan restored their "buy' call on shares of the world's biggest planemaker for the first time in two years.
Cisco Systems (CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report shares, however, slumped 8.3% after posting weaker-than-expected first quarter sales and cautioning on supply chain hits to its hardware business in the months ahead.
Macy's was marked 21.2% higher after its impressive third quarter update and outlook boost, while Koh's gained 6.75%.
Alibaba Group Holding Limited (BABA) - Get Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Sponsored ADR Report shares slumped 9.3% after the China-based retailing giant posted softer-than-expected second quarter sales amid Beijing's broader crackdown on the tech sector.
Deere & Co. (DE) - Get Deere & Company Report shares gained 2.1% after the agriculture equipment giant struck a final deal with the United Autoworkers Union that brings an end to a strike that lasted just over a month.
In overseas markets, Europe's Stoxx 600 edged 0.08% lower by mid-day trading in Frankfurt while the Asia region-wide MSCI ex-Japan index was marked 0.366% lower on the session following a report from S&P Global Ratings that struggling Chinese property development giant China Evergrande is likely to default on its outstanding debts because the company has essentially lost its main business.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 closed 0.3% lower at 29,598.66 points.