US stocks close mixed as investors digest corporate earnings and stimulus progress

  • US stocks closed mixed as investors digested corporate earnings and progress towards economic stimulus.
  • Alphabet and Amazon reported earnings on Tuesday evening that beat analyst forecasts and helped dictate index-wide trading on Wednesday.
  • President Biden reaffirmed his support for targeted $US1,400 stimulus checks.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Major US stock indexes closed mixed on Wednesday as investors continued to digest fourth-quarter corporate earnings and progress on President Biden’s $US1.9 trillion stimulus proposal.

Earnings from mega-cap titans Amazon and Alphabet exceeded analyst projections by a sizable amount, and Amazon posted its first quarter with revenue of more than $US100 billion.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced that he is stepping down from Amazon later this year and will remain executive chairman, with head of AWS Andy Jassy replacing Bezos as CEO. Investors sent shares down 2% in Wednesday trades.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Wednesday:

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But one Wall Street analyst suggests investors stick with the e-commerce giant. Canaccord Genuity said shares could surge 21% as deliveries remain elevated in a post-pandemic world.

Alphabet soared 7% on Wednesday after fourth quarter earnings revealed a surge in digital ad sales amid the holiday season. The company beat analyst revenue estimates by $US4 billion, and EPS estimates by $US6.58. Amazon beat analyst revenue estimates by $US5.8 billion, and EPS estimates by $US6.96.

On a caucus call with House Democrats, President Biden reaffirmed his support for a $US1.9 trillion stimulus bill that would include direct checks of $US1,400. Biden said he was open to better targeting the stimulus to people who need it the most.

The volatility in stocks fuelled by a Reddit short-squeeze continued on Wednesday, with shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment ending the day 3% and 14% higher, respectively.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will meet with the SEC, Federal Reserve, and CFTC officials to discuss the recent volatility sparked by last week’s GameStop short-squeeze.

In corporate news, GW Pharma soared 46% after Jazz Pharma said it would acquire the company for $US7.2 billion in cash and stock. GW develops treatments derived from the cannabis plant for epilepsy, cancer, and sleeping disorders.

Oil prices rose. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped as much as 2.9%, to $US56.33 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, gained 2.6%, to $US58.94 per barrel, at intraday highs.

Gold fell as much as 0.5%, to $US1,829.75 per ounce.

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