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Stocks Open Higher As Apple, CyberArk Receive Price Target Boost

Stocks opened higher Thursday, as the market looked to rebound from Wednesday’s losses and a strong dose of early economic news was generally positive.




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The Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 opened to gains of 0.2%. The Dow Jones industrial average struggled to hold its factional advance. Apple (AAPL) led the Nasdaq 100, up 1.7% in opening trade. Alaska Air Group (ALK) topped the S&P 500 list. Carnival (CCL) and ConAgra (CAG) dragged at the bottom of the S&P 500.

Early trade was tentative, after the Fed’s policy statement on Wednesday injected a new note of uncertainty into the central bank’s strategy outlook. In addition, a number of comments made during President Trump’s press conference late in the day had some investors adjusting their stance in Thursday’s premarket session.

Stock Market Set To Wrap September, Third Quarter

The market heads into the final two sessions of September, and of the third quarter, with the Dow finding some resistance as it attempts to push decisively above its January highs. The index is up 1.6% for September, well above its average for the month over the past five years. For the third quarter, the Dow is so far showing a solid 8.7% gain.

The S&P 500 also is finding resistance right around the 2,900 level. The index is up 0.2% in September, above its five-year average. It is tracking toward its sixth straight monthly gain. For the third quarter, the index is up 6.9%.

The Nasdaq heads into Thursday’s session down 1.5% for September, but up 6.4% for the third quarter. September has been a volatile month in recent years for the Nasdaq, which gained 5.1% in September 2013, and fell 3.3% in 2014. The index has been paused just below that 8,000 level, after notching a record high above that mark on Aug. 30.

Stock News Today: Apple, CyberArk Get Price Target Boosts

JPMorgan initiated coverage on Apple with an overweight rating and a price target at 272, which is 24% above Wednesday’s closing price. Analyst Samik Chatterjee noted the company was shifting from a hardware- to a services-based model faster than expected, bringing higher margin potential and valuation.

Apple shares are pulled back in a shallow consolidation, above their their 10-week moving average and extended above a flat base buy point at 194.30.

CyberArk Software (CYBR) jumped 5.7%, the early leader among IBD 50 stocks. Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to overweight, from equal weight, and hoisted its price target to 92 — 26% above Wednesday closing price. The gain lifted the stock above a buy range in a rebound from support at its 10-week moving average. Israel-based CyberArk was highlighted as an IBD 50 Stock To Watch on Wednesday.

Alaska Air Group (ALK) jumped 3.6% after Imperial Capital upgraded the stock to outperform, from in-line. The note lifted Alaska’s price target from 62, to 95 — nearly 42% above the stock’s final price of 67.12 on Wednesday. Alaska shares are trading 16% above a July low, within an 18-month consolidation.

Accenture (ACN) dropped less than 2% after reporting fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and revenue just above analyst views. Full-year earnings guidance was below expectations, however. The stock remains in a buy range above a flat base buy point at 169.05.

Chef Boyardee and Marie Calendar’s brand owner ConAgra stumbled 5% lower in opening trade. The Chicago-based company reported mixed fiscal first-quarter results, and guided second-quarter earnings below analyst targets.

Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBBY) toppled 21% as analysts downgraded the stock after a weak fiscal second-quarter report. Applied Electronics (AAOI) dived 14% on an analyst downgrade to sell, from hold, by Loop Capital.

Durable Goods Data Mixed, Trade Gap Widens

Orders for durable goods such as automobiles and refrigerators soared 4.5% in August, the Commerce Department reported. That was a huge step up from declines or narrow gains over the past four months, and more than double the 2.2% increase expected by economists.

However, core capital goods, a measure which strips out transportation, eked out a weak 0.1% gain. That was far below July’s 1.4% advance, and only a quarter the pace projected by the 0.4% analyst target.

The Labor Department left its estimate for second-quarter GDP growth unchanged, up 4.2%. Economists had forecast a slight increase, to 4.3%. The GDP price inflation gauge increased 3%, in line with expectations.

First-time unemployment claims jumped nearly 6%, to 214,000, in the week ended Sept. 22. Analysts had targeted an increase to 215,000.

The U.S. trade deficit widened to $75.8 billion in August, up from July’s $72.2 billion trade gap. Economists had projected a decrease to $70.8 billion.

August pending home sales numbers and the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s regional manufacturing index are due shortly after the open.

Oil Prices Climb; Europe’s Market Turn Positive

Oil prices gained early Thursday, taking back ground lost in a 1% slip on Wednesday. West Texas Intermediate rose 0.9% to $72.26 a barrel. Brent crude gained 0.6% to $81.81.

China stock markets swung lower Thursday, following Wednesday’s losses in the U.S. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 0.4% and the Shanghai Composite dipped 0.5%. In Japan, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 tumbled 1% lower, snapping a 9-day win streak that stopped short of retaking the Nikkei’s high from January.

Stocks in Europe turned positive in afternoon trade. Frankfurt’s DAX shed its early loss and rose 0.2%. The CAC-40 in Paris also reversed early losses and climbed 0.2%. London’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.3%.

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