About halfway through first-quarter earnings reports, Wall Street still isn’t sure where the economy is headed.
NEW YORK (AP) — About halfway through first-quarter earnings reports, Wall Street still isn’t sure where the economy is headed.
The Dow Jones industrials are closing with a gain of about 71 points, or 0.9 percent, but only after another shaky, back-and-forth day of trading.
Some companies reported strong earnings on Thursday including PNC Financial Services Group, which boosted other bank stocks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co.
Poor results from other companies however, such as UPS Inc. and steelmaker Nucor Corp., signaled trouble.
Economic data was downbeat, too. Sales of existing homes fell 3 percent in March, and claims for both new and continuing unemployment benefits rose last week.
“We’re in the middle of spring and people are trading stocks on hope,” said Charles Ortel, managing director at Newport Value Partners in New York. “But the harder data that are appearing are very negative.”
Investors are no more certain about the direction of the economy than they were when earnings season began about two weeks ago. The bulk of earnings from big companies are in, and they’ve been mixed.
The stock market is holding up, but it’s not extending its massive rally, either. After hitting nearly 12-year lows in early March, the Dow rallied and hit 8,131 last Friday. It has been wobbling underneath that level ever since.
“The most important thing that everybody’s looking for is clarity – good, bad or indifferent,” said Anthony Conroy, managing director and head trader for BNY ConvergEx Group.
According to preliminary calculations, the Dow rose 70.49, or 0.9 percent, to 7,957.06 – making up most of the loss it suffered Wednesday, when it fell 83 points.
Broader stock indicators also finished moderately higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 8.37, or 1 percent, to 851.92, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 6.09, or 0.4 percent, to 1,652.21.