US equities were mixed on Thursday, as strong performances from tech and healthcare shares barely outweighed mixed earnings reports. Europe was pushed down by a rallying euro, whilst the UK bounced into the green on the back of strong earnings reports. Asian equities were mostly higher.
US stocks were mixed as investors assessed up and down earnings reports. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained +0.2%, whilst the S&P 500 followed closely behind, moving up +0.1%. Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid into the light red, moving down -0.1%.The struggling shares of department store operator Sears jumped +11.1% after the company announced it would sell its home appliances on Amazon.com (-0.2%). The same news sent competing home appliance retailers Lowe’s and Home Depot down by -6.0% and -4.2%, respectively. Nike rallied +2.1% after an analyst upgraded the stock, predicting a return to sales growth due to strong new products. Healthcare stocks performed well after Republicans failed to pass their reform bill: Alexion Pharmaceuticals (+2.0%), AbbVie (+1.7%), Celgene (+1.3%), Allergan (+1.2%) and Johnson & Johnson (+1.2%) all progressed. Twenty First Century Fox and PayPal both gained +1.3%. eBay (+0.3%), Visa (+0.2%) and Microsoft (+0.1%) inched up ahead of their earnings releases after the market close. Qualcomm shares fell -4.6% as its legal battle with Apple (-0.2%) and other licensees continued to impact revenues and earnings in the last quarter, although the weak earnings had been expected by analysts.
European equities retraced earlier gains, as the euro leapt to its highest in more than a year against the US dollar. The Stoxx Europe 600 finished down -0.4%. Shares of Nordea Bank dropped -5.2% after the Swedish bank’s second quarter profit missed expectations. Publicis Groupe added +4.6% as the French advertising company posted growth in US revenue and a higher than expected second quarter profit. The UK’s FTSE 100 climbed +0.8%, as the pound dropped against the euro and as companies released strong earnings reports. WPP continued its gains from earlier this week, moving +2.1% higher. Royal Dutch Shell rose +1.8% with oil prices. Unilever shares gained +1.7% after reporting a strong rise in first quarter profit, and guiding to higher-than expected margins over the full year. Financial shares Standard Chartered (+1.8%) and Prudential (+0.8%) rose.
Asian equities progressed upwards as the Bank of Japan decided to keep its monetary policy program unchanged. The Topix (+0.7%), Kospi (+0.5%), Shanghai Composite (+0.4%) and Hang Seng (+0.3%) all gained.
The ASX 200 closed +0.5% higher, after positive economic data was released showing that unemployment levels were almost at a four year low.
WTI crude fell -0.7% to US$46.80. Gold rose +0.4% to US$1,246.10. Meanwhile, iron ore slid -US$2.20 to US$68.10/MT.
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