By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — U.S. stock markets opened at new record highs on Thursday, fueled by stronger-than-expected retail sales and jobless claims numbers.
Initial jobless claims fell to their lowest since the pandemic began, in a sign that the pace of layoffs, which remained disconcertingly high through the first quarter of this year, is finally beginning to slow down. Retail sales for March, meanwhile, surged nearly 10%, well above expectations, leaving spending on almost all categories of goods above where it was before the world first heard of Covid-19.
By 9:40 AM ET (1340 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average had risen to a new record high of 33,951 points, up 220 points on the day, or 0.7%. The S&P 500 was likewise at a new record high, with a gain of 0.7%. The Nasdaq Composite was up 1.1%.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, noted that “a correction in retail sales after April seems likely,” as spending patterns switch back increasingly to their pre-Covid status, “but attention then will switch to spending on non-retail services, which will rocket as the economy reopens fully.”
Among the early movers, Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) stock rose 2.8%, still finding support after reports indicated that Cathie Wood’s ARK Investment company bought some $250 million of the stock on its debut Wednesday for its suite of ETFs. By contrast, battery maker Quantumscape (NYSE:QS) stock fell 6.3% to a 2021 low after short-seller Scorpion Research published a report on the company, accusing it of being a “a pump and dump SPAC scam By Silicon Valley celebrities that makes Theranos look like amateurs.” There was no immediate response from the company.
Activists of a different sort were at work on GlaxoSmithKline ADRs (NYSE:GSK), after the Financial Times reported that Paul Singer’s Elliott Management is accumulating a stake in the underperforming pharmaceuticals and consumer health giant. The ADRs rose 5.1% to their highest in nearly three months.
Dell (NYSE:DELL) stock rose 5.4% and VMware (NYSE:VMW) stock rose 0.9% after the PC maker unveiled plans to spin off its stake in the latter, using the proceeds of a special dividend from VMWare to pay down its $52 billion in debt.
Chipmakers were broadly higher again after Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE:TSM) warned overnight that the global chip shortage is likely to drag on into 2022. TSM stock was down 2.1%, despite raising its guidance due to the prolonged imbalance of supply and demand in its core area. Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) stock gained 3.8%, helped by an upgrade from Raymond James, while Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) rose 2.2%.
Elsewhere, Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) stock fell 3.4% on disappointment that it didn’t move up estimates of when it will turn profitable again. The airline still says the third quarter is its target. Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) also fell after releasing their first-quarter earnings, which hinted at the same underlying weakness in loan demand that JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM)’s and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC)’s numbers had done on Wednesday. Not even a $25 billion stock buyback program was enough to stop BofA’s stock falling 4.0%.Wall Street Opens at Record Highs After Twin Boost From Economy; Dow up 220 Pts14