Dow, S&P 500 hit records as investors shake off GDP data, await Robinhood debut


The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 hit all-time intraday highs Thursday, as investors shrugged off a weaker-than-expected rise in second-quarter gross domestic product, focusing on largely upbeat corporate earnings reports and awaiting the trading debut of online brokerage Robinhood Markets.

What are major indexes doing?
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average
    was up 169.55 points, or 0.5%, at 35,100.48.

  • The S&P 500
    was up 24.37 points, or 0.6%, at 4,425.01.

  • The Nasdaq Composite
    gained 64.56 points, or 0.4%, to trade at 14,827.14.

On Wednesday, the Dow
and the S&P 500
closed lower, while strong results from Google owner Alphabet Inc.
carried the Nasdaq Composite

What’s driving the market?

The Commerce Department said U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annualized pace of 6.5% in the second quarter, falling short of the average forecast of 9.1% produced by a survey of economists by The Wall Street Journal. Separately, data from the Labor Department showed first-time applications for unemployment benefits fell 24,000 last week to 400,000.

“Today’s GDP report is a reminder that perspective is everything. Growth of 6.5% is robust by most measures, but against expectations for an advance of 8.5%, it’s still a disappointment,” said Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors.

Analysts noted that the expansion was held down by a fall in government spending as federal stimulus payments declined in the second quarter. Meanwhile, consumer spending, the main engine of the economy, rocketed 11.8% higher in the spring, the GDP data showed. That’s four times faster than the typical increase each quarter.

“The return of household services consumption, from in-restaurant dining to recreation, was a force to be reckoned with in Q2, responsible for the lion’s share of economic gains for the quarter,” said Michael Reynolds, vice president of investment strategy at Glenmede, in emailed comments.

“For a sector that was decimated by a cliff of falling demand for much of the pandemic, it’s encouraging to see meaningful steps along the path of recovery from the services economy,” he said.

While it’s possible the second quarter could indeed mark “peak growth” in economic activity, but it would not necessarily be a “market-shaping event” that investors should fear, Reynolds said.

“The reality is that ‘peak growth’ is a classic early cycle occurrence, typically marking the beginning of a developing and durable economic cycle, as growth settles in at lower (but more sustainable) levels,” he said.

Meanwhile, pending home sales fell 1.9% in June, the National Association for Realtors said Thursday. Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had projected a 0.5% gain.

Online brokerage Robinhood Markets

makes its long-awaited debut after pricing its initial public offering at the low end of expectations.

The second quarter corporate earnings reporting season continues as online retailing giant
reports after the close of trade.

Which companies are in focus?
  • Trevor Milton, founder of electric truck company Nikola Corp. 
     was indicted on three counts of fraud by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for making “false and misleading statements” to investors regarding “nearly all aspects of the business,” according to a grand jury indictment that was unsealed on Thursday. Shares fell more than 7.8%.

  • Facebook Inc. FB shares were down 3.6%, as the social media giant, like other technology titans, topped second-quarter earnings estimates but also guided to slowing revenue growth in the second half of the year.

  • PayPal Holdings Inc. PYPL beat estimates but said current quarter sales would miss expectations. Shares fell 4.7%.

  • Ford Motor Co.
    late Wednesday reported a surprise quarterly profit, saying “strong” demand for its vehicles allowed it to forgo discounts and flagged signs of improvement on chip supplies. Shares rose 3.8%.

  • Mastercard Inc.
    shares were up 2%, after the company topped expectations with its second-quarter results Thursday amid a continued recovery in spending trends.

  • Comcast Corp.
    topped earnings and revenue expectations Thursday after showing some recovery in its parks business as well as continued growth in the cable segment. Shares rose 2%.

  • Qualcomm Inc.
    earnings more than doubled in the second quarter, and executives said the chip company was significantly improving its access to foundries during a global semiconductor shortage in which capacity constraints have hampered the sector. Shares rose 5.7%.

  • Uber Technologies Inc.
    fell 2.8% after a report late Wednesday that SoftBank Group Corp. is selling about a third of its stake in the company.

What are other markets doing?
  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
    was down 1 basis point at 1.252%. Yields and debt prices move in opposite directions.

  • The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
    a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, fell 0.5%.

  • Oil futures were on the rise, with the U.S. benchmark
    up 1%, while gold futures
    jumped 1.6%, on track for their biggest one-day rise since mid-May.

  • In European equities, the Stoxx 600 Europe index
    rose 0.4%, while London’s FTSE 100
    advanced 0.9%.

  • In Asia, the Hang Seng
    rallied 3.3% on reports Chinese authorities tried to placate top foreign institutions about a wave of regulatory actions. The index remains down 3.7% for the week. The Shanghai Composite
    rose 1.5%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225
    gained 0.7%.


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