US stocks will be in focus today, ahead of earnings reports from some of the biggest corporate giants.
Context: US stocks closed higher on Wednesday, following positive data from Gilead Sciences’s potential coronavirus drug. Comments from the Fed Chairman also boosted market sentiment
Details: Gilead Sciences disclosed that in the government-led clinical trial, its drug remdesivir had met the primary goal in some coronavirus patients. The announcement lifted hopes of progress being made by pharmaceutical companies towards a potential treatment for coronavirus. Gilead is yet to announce additional details from the study.
Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that although the pandemic will severely hurt the US, the central bank is all set to strengthen its stimulus measures to support the economy.
Investors also digested a marked decline in US economic growth figures, with GDP contracting 4.8% in the first quarter. Pending home sales also plunged to its lowest levels since 2011. The Fed kept its interest rates unchanged, as it is already close to zero.
The Dow surged 532.31 points to close at 24,633.86 on Wednesday. The S&P 500 rose 2.7%, while the Nasdaq 100 climbed 3.6%.
In earnings news, Microsoft reported better-than-expected earnings for its latest quarter. Tesla also announced an unexpected profit for the quarter. Shares of Qualcomm gained 3% in extended trading after the company posted upbeat results.
In commodities, WTI (West Texas Intermediate) crude oil for June climbed 22% to close at $15.06 a barrel. Gold for June delivery slipped 0.5% to settle at $1,713.40 an ounce on Wednesday.
Investors continue to assess the daily Covid-19 figures, with the total number of global cases surpassing 3,196,660. In the US, confirmed cases have cross the one million mark, with around 60,990 deaths.
What to watch: Markets will be looking for earnings reports from major companies, including Apple, Kraft Heinz, Twitter, American Airlines and Amazon.
Investors also await a basket of economic reports from the country, including personal income, spending, initial jobless claims, employment cost index and Chicago PMI. US personal income, which rose 0.6% in February, is expected to decline 1.5% in March. Personal spending is projected to fall 5% in March, from February’s reading of 0.2% growth. The employment cost index is likely to rise 0.6% in the first quarter.
US initial jobless claims are expected to drop to 3.5 million, from 4.427 million in the previous week. Analysts expect the Chicago PMI to plunge to 38 in April, from 47.8 in March.
Other Markets: Asian indices closed higher on Thursday, with China’s Shanghai Composite index, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and Japan’s Nikkei 225 up by 1.3%, 0.3% and 2.1%, respectively.