Stocks rallied to end a two-day streak of declines ahead of the crucial jobs data on Friday.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,955.62, +113.64, (0.64%)
- S&P 500: 2,090.90, +10.75, (0.52%)
- Nasdaq: 4,952.67, +33.02, (0.67%)
And now, the top stories on Thursday:
- Initial jobless claims are still near multi-decade lows. Last week, the number of claims totaled 265,000, fewer than expected and up just slightly from last week’s total of 262,000, which was nearly a 40-year low for the reading. Expectations were for claims to total 278,000 last week. The four-week average of initial claims is now at 279,500, a decrease of 4,250 from the previous week and the lowest level for this average since May 6, 2000.
- Fitbit has filed for an initial public offering. The maker of fitness trackers and devices is seeking to be listed raise up to $US100 million, listed on the New York Stock Exchange. According to the regulatory filing, the company had $US745 million in revenues last year.
- Yelp is exploring a sale, according to the Wall Street Journal. Following the news, shares of the company were up as much as 25% and were at one point halted for volatility. The company could be valued at up to $US3.5 billion in a sale, according to The Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter. A sale is not imminent and the company could decide against it, according to the report. Last week, shares of the company fell 20% after it reported earnings below expectations.
- Whole Foods was the biggest loser on the S&P 500; it’s shares plunged by up to 10%. On Wednesday, the company reported second-quarter sales of $US3.6 billion, a 10% increase, but below investors’ expectation for $US3.7 billion. Organic food sales have exploded in the US, and that’s not helping Whole Foods. “We remain concerned about WFM’s ability to revive sustained strong sales growth as competition intensifies,” wrote S&P Capital IQ’s Joseph Agnese in an email.
- Shares of Alibaba rallied by more than 8% after the company posted quarterly earnings above expectations. The Chinese e-commerce company reported quarterly sales of $US2.8 billion, a 45% increase from the previous year that beat the estimate for $US2.6 billion. The company posted adjusted earnings per share of $US0.48, beating the estimate for $US0.42. The company also announced Daniel Zhang as its new CEO, replacing Jonathan Lu.
- Lumber Liquidators will stop selling its laminate flooring sourced in China. A CBS “60 Minutes” episode March 1 showed that tested samples had levels of formaldehyde that exceeded regulatory standards. In a statement, the company said it pulled the products as it investigates its suppliers in the country, and amid “mounting industry concerns.” Hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson wrote in a statement: “This is one of the most immoral, reckless and truly insane decisions I have ever seen a company make.” Tilson is short the stock, and was interviewed in the “60 Minutes” episode.
- Tomorrow is jobs day. Economists forecast that in April, nonfarm payrolls grew by 230,000, from the disappointing 126,000 print in March. The consensus is for a drop in the unemployment rate to 5.4% from 5.5%. And, the forecast for average hourly earnings is a 0.2% gain month-on-month, ticking lower from 0.3% in March, according to data from Bloomberg. “While labour market indicators were mixed in April, the employment components of service-sector surveys were strong, and better weather conditions should provide a boost,” Goldman’s David Mericle wrote. And, UBS anticipates that the weak print on private payrolls from ADP will not dent Friday’s data, due to possible weather distortions.
- Consumer credit rose by $US20.5 billion in March, up from $US14.8 billion last month and more than the $US15.8 billion that was expected, according to the Federal Reserve.
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