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blue chips up as stock market prepares for three day holiday

U.S. stock indexes logged solid gains Thursday as the market headed toward a three-day Easter holiday weekend. The day’s leaders included blue chips Procter & Gamble (PG) and United States Steel (X).

X

The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 rose around 1%. The Nasdaq added just under 1%, while the small-cap Russell 2000 rose 0.9%.

Volume in the stock market today fell on both major exchanges. Some fund managers may be getting an early start on the three-day weekend. The stock market will be closed on Good Friday.

Procter & Gamble headed for its fourth gain in a row, up 1.4% Thursday. The stock marked a 52-week low March 23. Since then, gains have come in above-average volume each day. P&G is now about 5% above the low.

The Street expects P&G to declare a dividend increase in April. The increase would be the 62nd year in a row that P&G has raised its payout. P&G  is attempting a turnaround. Earnings in fiscal Q2 ended in December rose 10%, above the five-year growth rate of 0%. Revenue grew 3%, above the five-year rate of -6%.

A Steel Blue Chip

United States Steel popped 5% midsession Thursday. Volume spurted 55% faster than usual. Shares of U.S. Steel dropped 18% in March. At this point, a new base is the only hope for steel bulls.

The chart for U.S. Steel does not look encouraging. The stock is 25% off its high and needs to build the right side of its consolidation.

Innovator Fund

Leading stocks are in somewhat better shape.

For instance, the Innovator IBD 50 Fund (FFTY) is only 8% off its high and began constructing the right side of a consolidation in mid-February. The pattern undercut the low of its previous base, thereby resetting the base count to first stage.

The fund’s potential buy point is 35.30. A new market uptrend is needed, though, before buying any stock.

Top-rated stocks moving up in fast trade Thursday included Grubhub (GRUB), up 1.7%; Nvidia (NVDA), 2.9%; Weibo (WB), 3.7%; and Adobe Systems (ADBE), 1%.

Economic Data

In financial news, first-time jobless claims rolled in at 215,000 vs. the consensus estimate of 228,000.

Personal income and consumer spending for February matched views at 0.4% and 0.2% respectively.

The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index missed badly at 57.4 for March vs. the 62.8 reading expected.

The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment gauge also missed. The needle hit 101.4 in March vs. views for 102.

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