New York, Oct. 30 (BNA): Wall Street is clawing back some of its sharp recent losses Monday, ahead of a week that could send more big swings through financial markets.
The S&P 500 was 0.7% higher in its first trading after dropping more than 10% below its high point for the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 322 points, or 1%, as of 11:04 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was 0.9% higher.
Western Digital was helping to prop up the market after it reported better results for the latest quarter than analysts expected. It also announced plans to split its company into two, one focusing on traditional hard disk drives and the other focusing on flash memory. Its stock jumped 5%.
McDonald’s was also supporting the market’s gains after it reported stronger profit and revenue for the summer than analysts expected. Its stock rose 1.6% after it said it benefited from higher prices for its products in the United States and raised its dividend, the Asscoited Press (AP) reported.
More than 3 out of 4 companies in the S&P 500 have been reporting stronger profits for the latest quarter than Wall Street expected, according to FactSet.
With roughly half the reports in, they also appear to be on track to deliver the first overall growth in earnings per share in a year.
That’s usually encouraging for the stock market, which tends to follow the trend of corporate profits over the long term. But Wall Street has been struggling recently due to a couple of big worries. First is the mixed reaction to profit reports from some influential Big Tech companies. Their stock movements carry extra weight on the S&P 500 because they’re the biggest in size.
Apple will report its latest quarterly results on Thursday. Because it’s the most valuable stock on Wall Street, it is also the most influential stock on the S&P 500. Already, sharp drops for Alphabet and other Big Tech members following their profit reports have shaken the market this reporting season.
Big Tech soared much more than the rest of the market early this year, which helped to lift the S&P 500 but also meant big expectations for continued growth. Those expectations perhaps grew too large.
The second big factor dragging on the stock market since its high point for the year on July 31 has been a sharp run higher in Treasury yields. When bonds are paying higher yields like that, they make investors less willing to pay high prices for stocks and other investments. They also make borrowing more expensive for everyone from huge corporations to home buyers, which puts the brakes on the economy.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.90% from 4.84% late Friday. It jumped from less than 3.50% during the spring to more than 5% earlier this month, its highest level since 2007. A remarkably resilient economy and other factors have the 10-year Treasury yield catching up to the main interest rate controlled by the Federal Reserve, which is above 5.25% and at its highest level since 2001.
The Fed has jacked up its federal funds rate in hopes of slowing the economy and stock prices enough to starve high inflation of its fuel. Its next meeting on interest rates will begin Tuesday, with an announcement coming Wednesday.
The widespread expectation is that it will leave the federal funds rate, which affects overnight lending by banks, alone. What will be more important is any hints the Fed gives about what it will do next. Fed officials have been saying they may keep rates high for a long time to ensure high inflation goes down, but they’ve also said the recent jump in longer-term Treasury yields could be acting like rate hikes on their own.
The central bank says it will make all its upcoming moves based on what incoming data about the economy and inflation say. That’s why this week could be a shaky one for markets, with many data points that could change officials’ minds.
On Tuesday, the government will release data on employment costs from July through September. Workers have been fighting for higher raises, but the Fed worries that too-high pay increases could give inflation more fuel.
On Wednesday will come the latest monthly update on the number of job openings across the country. One way the Fed could pull off the delicate balancing act of slowing the economy without creating a recession would be if the number of job openings cools without requiring waves of layoffs.
And then on Friday will come the jobs report for October, which is typically one of the most anticipated pieces of economic data every month.
Through it all will be other updates on the economy and borrowing by the U.S. government, as well as profit reports from roughly 150 companies in the S&P 500, including CVS Health, Pfizer, and Starbucks.
Several oil and gas producers will also be reporting, including Marathon Petroleum. They’ve benefited from a run higher in crude prices since the summer. A barrel of U.S. crude jumped from less than $70 to more than $93 earlier this month.
But oil prices have been shaky since the start of the latest Israel-Hamas war. Traders are still uncertain about whether the fighting will spill into the politics around the region and affect production from Iran or other big suppliers.
A barrel of U.S. crude fell 2.9% Monday to $83.03. Brent crude, the international standard, sank 2.4% to $87.02 per barrel.
In stock markets abroad, indexes rose in Europe following a more mixed finish in Asia. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1%.
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