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Market Snapshot: S&P 500, Nasdaq edge higher as investors weigh earnings from tech stocks and slide in bond yields

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was under modest pressure in afternoon trade, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were pushing higher as investors absorbed a huge batch of earnings from technology heavyweights, including Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft, as well as McDonald’s Corp., Boeing Co. and others.

Investors also were digesting a surprise decision by the Bank of Canada to immediately suspend its large-scale bond purchases, potentially paving the way for Canadian rates to rise as early as next spring, which was credited with partly sparking a rush into haven U.S. 10-year Treasury debt.

How are stock indexes trading?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

fell 89 points, or 0.2%, to 35,666.

The S&P 500

was 5 points higher, or 0.1%, at 4,580.

The Nasdaq Composite

was up 114 points, or 0.8%, at 15,348.

On Tuesday, the Dow and S&P 500 both finished at records, while the Nasdaq Composite finished less than 1% below its record close from Sept. 7.

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What’s driving the market?

Stocks looked to push deeper into record territory on Wednesday, after already notching a string of record closes during a robust third-quarter earnings reporting season.

While earnings have been “particularly strong,” posting a sixth straight quarter of double-digit beats, investor willingness to pay more for higher earnings has been a key to a rally that’s taken the S&P 500 up by more than 6% so far this month, said Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. equity strategist at Credit Suisse Securities, while pointing to the rise in stock multiples from 20 times earnings to 21.1 as being “the real driver of the market’s advance,” in a Wednesday note (see chart below).

Credit Suisse

“Although investors fear that higher interest rates, inflation, and energy prices are potential headwinds, these indicators reflect economic vibrancy, supporting higher stock prices,” Golub said.

Meanwhile, in a surprise move Wednesday, the Bank of Canada said it would abruptly end its bond buying program and warned of prolonged inflation through 2023, while also signaling it may hike interest rates sooner than expected, the second quarter of 2022.

Jim Vogel, fixed-income strategist at FHN Financial, attributed sharp moves lower in long dated U.S. Treasury yields on Wednesday to an “over reaction” by investors to the sudden change of tone by the Bank of Canada, adding that “most were looking to the ECB tomorrow for possible dovish central bank messaging, not north for actual hawks today,” in emailed commentary.

Lower U.S. Treasury yields helped to support technology stocks whose valuations are sensitive to bond yields, while good earnings reports from Google and Microsoft late Thursday also helped. Tech stocks may also be benefitting from fading chances for corporate tax increases in the White House budget plan.

“The Nasdaq continues to outperform following robust mega-cap tech results and as Democrats struggle to find ways to increase taxes,” said Edward Moya, Senior Market Analyst, The Americas, at OANDA. “Kryptonite for big-tech has always been raising taxes and regulation.  With Senator Joe Manchin showing little openness for tax increases, tech stocks are soaring.”   

Microsoft Corp. MSFT reporting quarterly earnings that shot over $20 billion for the first time, late Tuesday. Shares rose 5% to $325.85, on track for a record close, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL reported earnings that topped estimates amid resilient advertising sales. Its shares rose 6.1%.

Read:Apple’s ‘ad-mageddon’ is affecting Snap, Facebook, Google and Twitter differently

Data showed U.S. durable goods orders fell 0.4% in October, compared with expectations for a 1% decline. “Core” orders rose by 0.8%. Separately, the government said the trade deficit widened in September.

“The weakness in headline durable goods orders last month was driven by another fall in transport orders, which mostly reflects worsening supply problems in the auto market,” said Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics. “The strong increase in underlying orders and shipments suggests that demand remains solid.”

See: Why it’s wrong to compare today’s inflation surge to 1970s-style ‘stagflation’

Elsewhere, Sino-U.S. tensions were in focus after the Federal Communications Commission gave China Telecom

60 days to leave the U.S. market. Regulators cited a potential national security threat from the company, such as the disruption of U.S. communications, amid rising tensions between the countries.

Which companies are in focus?

Boeing BA shares fell 0.5%, after the aerospace and defense company reporting a big loss and revenue misses amid weakness in the commercial airplanes and defense, space and security businesses, while free cash flow was a lot less negative than projected.

McDonald’s MCD shares rose 6.8% after the fast-food giant reported third-quarter earnings and sales that beat expectations.

Shares of Coca-Cola Co. KO rose 1.7%, after the beverage giant reported third-quarter profit and revenue that topped expectations, with all geographic regions seeing revenue and unit case volume growth. It also raised its full-year earnings growth view.

General Motors Co. GM shares were 4.1% lower, despite the auto maker blowing past profit estimates for the third quarter and offered above-consensus guidance for the full year, offsetting a revenue miss.

Shares of Robinhood Markets Inc.

fell 10.1% Wednesday, after the online trading platform reported a wider quarterly loss and lower-than-expected sales amid weak crypto-related revenue.

Shares of Texas Instruments Inc.

slumped 4.8%, after the chip maker’s third-quarter results met Wall Street forecasts. It also noted “hot spots” of components shortages.

Visa Inc.

shares fell 5.13% after the credit-card company topped earnings expectations but disappointed some over its revenue outlook.

What are other markets doing?

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note

plunged 9 basis points to 1.53%. 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, was off 0.2%.

Oil futures pulled back from multiyear highs, with the U.S. benchmark

down 2.2% at $83.80 a barrel. Gold futures

settled 0.3% lower at $1,798.80 an ounce.

In European equities, the Stoxx Europe 600

fell 0.4% and London’s FTSE 100

shed 0.3%.

The Shanghai Composite

fell 1%, while the Hang Seng Index

dropped 1.6% in Hong Kong, while Japan’s Nikkei 225

saw a marginal decline.

Barbara Kollmeyer contributed reporting

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