STOCKS GO NOWHERE: Here's what you need to know

Stocks were all over the place on Tuesday. The S&P 500 and the Dow rallied above the record highs set on Monday, but slid in the final 90 minutes of trading. But virtue of a positive close, the Dow made a new record high.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 18,305.52, +6.64, (0.04%)
  • S&P 500: 2,127.03, -2.17, (-0.10%)
  • Nasdaq: 5,069.76, -8.68, (-0.17%)

And now, the top stories on Tuesday:

  1. In economic data, housing starts surged to the highest level since November 2007. Starts rose 20.2% in April to an annualized pace of 1.135 million, crushing expectations for a 9.6% rise to an annualized rate of 1.01 million. Building permits rose 10.1% to an annualized pace of 1.143 million, versus forecasts for a 2.1% rise to an annualized pace of 1.06 million. “The uptick in mortgage rates over the last month will be a headwind going forward,” wrote Nomura analysts in a note. “However, today’s data reinforce our basic view that housing will contribute to stronger growth this year and that we should expect stronger growth in the US going forward.”
  2. US government bonds sold off. As their prices fell, yields rose; the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note climbed to a year-to-date high of 2.303%, a rise of about 5 basis points. The long 30-year bond yield also rose about 5 basis points to as high as 3.09%.
  3. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell more than 3.5% to as low as $US57.95 per barrel. The American Petroleum Institute is due to report on US crude stockpiles after the closing bell, and the Energy Information Administration will release its tally on Wednesday. Inventories have declined in the past few weeks. Over the weekend, Goldman Sachs slashed its price forecast for the next five years.
  4. The New York Stock Exchange has launched a bitcoin index. NYXBT will reflect data from the Coinbase bitcoin exchange, which the exchange made a minority investment in earlier this year. The NYSE said in a statement: “NYXBT utilises a unique methodology that relies on rules-based logic to analyse a dataset of matched transactions and verify the integrity of the data to ultimately produce an objective and fair daily value for one bitcoin in U.S. Dollars as of 16:00 London time.” Bitcoin is currently worth $US233, down almost $US3 from yesterday.
  5. Shares of Chinese sports lottery site 500.com surged as much as 30% despite the company announcing a first-quarter loss, the resignation of its CEO and one director, and saying it is currently generating no sales. The company saw an earnings per share loss of 6 cents, much less than the expectation for a profit of 28 cents, and sales of $US15.9 million versus $US24.7 million expected. It saw a net loss of $US8.4 million. Last month, 500.com suspended all online lottery sales in agreement with the Chinese government. And in the earnings report Tuesday, it said it is not generating revenues due to the suspension.
  6. TJX Companies beat estimates on earnings and revenues in the first quarter — something that’s been unusual for retailers this season. The parent company of TJ Maxx and Marshalls reported adjusted earnings per share of $US0.69 (versus $US0.66 expected) on sales of $US6.9 billion (versus $US6.8 billion.) The company saw a 5% rise in same-store sales, and raised its full-year guidance based on these results. Its stock rose as much as 3%. Macy’s and JCPenney are two of the retailers that reported weaker-than-expected earnings.
  7. Urban Outfitters also missed expectations, and its stock tanked by up to 16%. It reported first quarter sales of $US0.25 ($US0.30 expected,) and record sales of $US739 million (still below $US757.58 expected.) Analysts at Oppenheimer downgraded the stock to “Perform” from “Outperform,” citing several lacklustre quarters, and “fashion misses” at Anthropologie in their note.
  8. Shake Shack shares rallied by more than 5%, bringing the stock’s gains since reporting earnings after the close last Wednesday to around 12%. After the company’s initial public offering priced at $US21 in January, the stock has more than tripled and was trading at around $US76 on Tuesday. There’s been no big news since the earnings results that one analyst described as a “historically impressive ‘beat and raise quarter.’” Shake Shack’s flagship location in Madison Square Park in New York will reopen on Wednesday May 20.

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