Stocks jumped out of the gate Thursday, building on Wednesday’s inflation-fueled gains. However, unlike yesterday where markets rallied hard into the close, today’s upside action stalled out as the session wore on, as momentum in tech stocks faded.
Today’s positive start came courtesy of a number of headlines, including a strong earnings report from Walt Disney (DIS). The entertainment and media conglomerate last night reported higher-than-expected earnings and revenue for its fiscal third quarter. Disney also added 14.4 million subscribers to its Disney Plus streaming service over the three-month period, more than the 10 million analysts were expecting. DIS jumped 4.7% after earnings, easily making it the top-performing Dow Jones stock today.
On the economic front, the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning said U.S. producer prices were up 9.8% annually in July – well below June’s 11.3% rise and the lowest year-over-year increase since October 2021. Month-over-month, the producer price index was down 0.5%.
“Inflationary pressures are clearly easing, but a lot of that decline is dependent if oil prices continue to grind lower,” says Edward Moya, senior market strategist at currency data provider OANDA. “The risk of higher oil prices going into year end are elevated, so this moderation in inflationary pressures might not last.”
Oil prices also were higher today, with U.S. crude futures gaining 2.6% to settle at $94.34 per barrel. This fueled a major rally in the energy sector (+3.5%), while healthcare stocks (-0.7%) lagged.
As for the broader indexes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1% to 33,336 thanks to a Disney-related boost. However, the S&P 500 Index (-0.1% to 4,207) and the Nasdaq Composite (-0.6% at 12,779) ended with modest losses. All three indexes had been up more than 1% earlier in the session.
Other news in the stock market today:
The small-cap Russell 2000 added 0.3% to 1,975.
Gold futures fell 0.4% to finish at $1,807.20 an ounce.
Bitcoin jumped 2.3% to $24,208.82. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)
Six Flags (SIX) plunged 18.2% after the theme park operator reported earnings. In its second quarter, earnings per share fell 35% year-over-year to 53 cents, while revenue was down 5% to $435 million. Analysts, by comparison, were expecting earnings of $1.01 per share on $519 million in revenue. “We would sit on the sidelines until SIX can prove it can grow its top and bottom line with its new premium strategy especially as the consumer slows spending on discretionary services as inflation boost consumer debt and lowers savings,” says CFRA Research analyst Zachary Warring, who lowered his rating on SIX to Hold from Buy.
The Best Stocks Since the Bear-Market Bottom
Have stocks bottomed? That’s a popular question circling Wall Street these days, with the S&P 500 fresh off its best July since FDR was president and the Nasdaq up roughly 20% from its late June lows.
“We are not 100% in that camp,” says Victoria Fernandez, chief market strategist at investment management firm Crossmark Global Investments. “Bear-market rallies and the start of new bull markets look similar but we need to see the broad-based momentum to believe this is more than a shorter-term rally.”
Still, given the Nasdaq’s impressive run in recent weeks, many in the financial media are proclaiming the start of a new bull market for the tech-heavy index (although the bull won’t be confirmed until the index takes out its previous all-time high of 16,057 set on Nov. 19, 2021).
No matter which side you’re on, after months and months of extreme stock market volatility, “there’s no harm in prematurely celebrating the beginning of a new bull market,” says Kiplinger’s Dan Burrows. And to mark the moment, we uncovered the S&P 500’s top-performing stocks since the bear-market bottom on June 16. Take a look.