U.S. stocks traded mixed Thursday, threatening a six-day winning streak for the S&P 500, as investors paused from an earnings-driven rally that lifted the Dow to a fresh intra-day higher during yesterday's session.
A series of stronger-than-expected September quarter earnings reports, including record profits from Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report after the close of trading on Wednesday, have pushed U.S. stocks out of their October torpor and to within touching distance of all time highs.
China Evergrande's debt woes, however, as well as another warning on inflation from consumer brands giant Unilever, looks to test the market's momentum Thursday as investors look to a better-than-expected reading on weekly jobless claims, which fell to 290,000 over the period ending October 16, and a softer-than-expected reading of Atlantic-region factory activity data for the month of October.
Evergrande rattled markets again late Wednesday afterscrapped a planned sale of a majority stake in its property services subsidiary that was expected to raise $2.6 billion for the indebted developer.
Unilever (UN) - Get Unilever NV ADR Report the world's biggest consumer brands group -- and the maker of Dove soap and Ben & Jerry's ice cream -- added its name to a list of companies, including Procter & Gamble (PG) - Get Procter & Gamble Company Report and Nestle (NSRGY) - Get NSRGY Report, warning that higher input costs will both add to sticky inflation prospects and higher consumer prices.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 150 points by late-morning trading, while the S&P 500 was marked 8 points lower. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite, however, added 30 points even as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields edge higher, to 1.67%, in New York trading.
Tesla shares were a big component to the Nasdaq's increase, rising 2.5% lower after posted record third quarter earnings but noted that ramping-up production at new plants in Texas and Germany would pressure profit margins over the final months of the year.
IBM (IBM) - Get International Business Machines (IBM) Report shares slumped 7% after another earnings report was marred by softer-than-expected revenues ahead of the planned separation of its legacy infrastructure business.
AT&T (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report gained 0.5% after stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings Thursday, thanks in part to impressive subscriber gains for its HBO streaming service, as it continues its transition from media assets to a 'pure play' telecom.
Away from equities, Bitcoin continued its ascent into record territory on Thursday, extending Wednesday’s gains as broader optimism about digital assets stoked by the token’s run helped push the overall value of cryptocurrencies to an all-time peak.
One bitcoin recently traded at $65,701.33, up 2.92% though below its peak of almost $67,000 reached during the trading day Wednesday. It is now above its previous record high of $64,895 reached this past summer.
Oil prices were also active, after hitting $86 a barrel in overnight trading, following an Energy Department report showing stockpiles at the key delivery hub of Cushing, Oklahoma, fell to a three year low of 31.22 million barrels.
WTI futures for December delivery were marked 40 cents lower on the session at $83.02 each while Brent contracts for the same month, the global pricing benchmark, fell 870 cents to $845.13 per barrel.