Stocks opened in positive territory and spent most of the session in the green. There were several economic data points released, including weekly jobless claims and energy inventory reports, though the data had little effect on the market as buyers stepped in to pick up perceived bargains after the selloff of the past few days. Investors are hoping today's action is the beginning of a “Santa Claus” rally that will see stocks rally into the end of the year, but that may turn out to be wishful thinking based on the continuing overhang of trade disputes, most notably with China.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., initial jobless claims rose 3,000 to 224,000 in the week ended November 17. Durable goods orders dropped 4.4% in October, but much of the decline was in transportation orders, which fell 12.2%. Excluding transportation, orders edged up 0.1%. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey fell 1.1 points to 97.5 in the final reading for November. That final figure was also down from the 98.3 preliminary look. Existing home sales bounced 1.4% to a 5.22M rate in October, which was a little stronger than expected. The leading index rose 0.1% to 112.1 in October, hitting another record high. In energy news, Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. rig count is down 3 rigs from last week to 1,079.
COMPANY NEWS: In another potential warning sign for Apple (AAPL), Bloomberg reported that Foxconn Technology Group (HNHPF), the biggest assembler of iPhones, plans to reduce expenses in 2019 by $2.9B amid a "very difficult and competitive year." The company plans to eliminate about 10% of non-technical staff, according to an internal company memo quoted by Bloomberg.
Deere (DE) reported Q4 sales and earnings that missed expectations, stating that the company "has continued to face cost pressures for raw materials such as steel," which it said are being addressed through pricing actions and ongoing cost management. Despite the miss, Deere shares closed 2.4% higher following the quarterly report.
Shares of Gap (GPS) rose 4.7% after the company said during its earnings conference call that it is considering closing hundreds of underperforming namesake brand stores. The company reported flat comparable sales in the third quarter, as gains at Banana Republic and Old Navy were offset by the decline in the Gap brand.
In an interview with CNN, Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg said stepping down as the company's chairman is "not the plan." Zuckerberg also expressed support for Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, calling her "a really important part of this company."
Meanwhile, GameStop (GME) shares jumped 11.5% after the video game retailer said it agreed to sell its Spring Mobile business, which owns and operates 1,289 AT&T (T) wireless stores, to Prime Communications for $700M and that it continues to review strategic and financial alternatives.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Tandem Diabetes (TNDM), which rose nearly 15% after Baird analyst Jeff Johnson upgraded the stock to Outperform from Neutral. Also higher was Foot Locker (FL), which gained 15% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which slid 3% after Bloomberg reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected the company's request to prevent generic versions of its prostate cancer drug Zytiga from entering the U.S. market while the company appeals a trial judge's ruling that invalidated a patent on the medicine. Also lower was Caleres (CAL), which fell 9% after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: The Dow dipped 0.95 to 24,464.69
, the Nasdaq gained 63.43, or 0.92%, to 6,972.25
, and the S&P 500 added 8.04, or 0.3%, to 2,649.93.