Stocks back near record highs day after Fed quarter point cut
Stocks have been higher since the open, putting the S&P back in striking distance of its prior record high. Following yesterday's quarter point rate cut from the Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan kept policy steady, but signaled it may soon expand stimulus. The Bank of England also maintained its key interest rate. Norway’s central bank broke rank with its global peers, raising its main interest rate by a quarter percentage point on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development cut its economic forecasts for both 2019 and 2020, citing trade tensions as the primary driver.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., initial jobless claims edged up 2,000 to 208,000 in the week ended September 14. The Philly Fed index fell 4.8 points to 12.0 in September, which was a little better than expected. The Q2 current account balance deficit narrowed to $128.2B after hitting $136.2B in Q1. Existing home sales rose 1.3% to a 5.49M rate in August, beating expectations. The leading index was unchanged at 112.1 in August.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Microsoft (MSFT) are up 2% near noon after the tech giant announced last night that its board of directors increased the company's dividend by 11% to 51c per share and approved a new program authorizing up to $40B in share repurchases. In other capitol allocation news, Target announced that its board has authorized a new $5B share repurchase program. Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said the business is "delivering outstanding financial performance, which allows us to continue supporting our shareholders through dividends and share repurchases."
Airbnb announced that it expects to become a publicly-traded company during 2020. Airbnb's accommodation marketplace provides access to 7M unique places to stay in more than 100,000 cities and 191 countries and regions, according to the company.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was China Biologic (CBPO), which gained 11% after reporting its receipt of a "going private" offer from Beachhead Holdings and Citic Capital.
Also higher was Herman Miller (MLHR), which rose 4% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was U.S. Steel (X), which slid 12% after its Q3 guidance missed analyst expectations.
Also lower was Darden (DRI), which fell over 3.5% after the owner of the Olive Garden and Longhorn chains reported first quarter results.
INDEXES: Near midday, the Dow was up 12.13, or 0.40%, to 3,018.86, the Nasdaq was up 43.07, or 0.53%), to 8,220.46, and the S&P 500 was up 91.09, or 0.34%, to 27,238.17.