Here Are 4 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said gradual interest rate hikes were appropriate to keep inflation under control.
  • The S&P 500   set a record closing high Friday, eclipsing January's peak and notching its seventh weekly gain in eight weeks.
  • The Nasdaq also set an intraday high and traded higher for the sixth time in seven sessions.
  • Gap Inc. (GPS) fell 9% after same-store sales at the retailer's namesake brand fell 5% during the fiscal second quarter.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks rose to record levels on Friday, Aug. 24, after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said gradual interest rate hikes were appropriate to keep inflation under control as long as growth in the U.S. economy remained strong. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes set record closing highs.

"The economy is strong. Inflation is near our 2% objective, and most people who want a job are finding one ... If the strong growth in income and jobs continues, further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will likely be appropriate," Powell said in an address at the annual conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average  gained 133 points, or 0.5%, to 25,790, the S&P 500  rose 0.62%  to clsoe at 2,874.70, a record close.  The Nasdaq    gained 0.86% to close at 7,945.98, also a closing high. 

Powell's comments come just days after Donald Trump told Reuters earlier this week that he was "not thrilled" with the Fed's rate increases under Powell, his own appointee, and that he should be "given some help" by the central bank as he threatens China with a trade war that has weighed on stock-market sentiment.

In U.S. economic news, durable goods orders for July fell 1.7%, the third decline in four months.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is being investigated by U.S. authorities over potential bribery and corruption related to software sales in Hungary, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Shares of the software giant rose 0.8%.
 
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Foot Locker Inc. ( FL) reported fiscal earnings and sales for its fiscal second quarter that topped analysts' expectations. Same-store sales of 0.5%, however, came in below forecasts that called for an increase of 0.7%. The stock fell 9%.

Shares of Gap Inc. (GPS) tumbled 9% after the retailer posted second-quarter earnings and sales above analysts' forecasts but same-store sales at its namesake brand fell 5%.

Gap earned 76 cents a share in its fiscal second quarter, 5 cents higher than estimates, as sales rose 8% to $4.1 billion.

Comparable-store sales at Old Navy rose 5%, and gained 2% at Banana Republic. Same-store sales for Gap stores fell 5% compared with a decline of 1% a year earlier.

HP Inc. (HPQ) , the printer and computer maker, fell 2% on Friday after its fiscal third-quarter results topped Wall Street estimates but earnings guidance disappointed.

The company raised its forecast for full-year adjusted profit to between $2 and $2.03 a share, up from previous guidance of $1.97 to $2.02 a share. Analysts expect full-year profit of $2 a share.

Software company Autodesk Inc. (ADSK) posted second-quarter adjusted earnings of 19 cents a share, beating estimates by 3 cents. The stock rose 15%.

Hibbett Sports Inc. (HIBB) fell 30% on Friday after the athletic apparel retailer reported a fiscal second-quarter loss of 6 cents a share when analysts were expecting a profit of 7 cents. The company also cut its earnings guidance for fiscal 2019.

Intuit Inc. (INTU) said Brad Smith will step down as CEO at the end of the year but will remain as executive board chairman at the finance software company.

Smith will be replaced by Sasan Goodarzi, who most recently served as executive vice president and general manager of the company's small business and self-employed group. Shares rose 2%.


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