Stocks Up Moderately; The Wild Cards In This Market | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

U.S. stock indexes were mixed in early action as the major indexes chipped in moderate gains and losses. The Nasdaq rose 0.15%, while small caps advanced confidently.

X The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average were up 0.1% and 0.2% respectively. The small-cap Russell 2000 gained 0.4%.

Volume in the stock market today was up on the Nasdaq and down on the NYSE. Volume on both major exchanges stepped down Tuesday and Wednesday.

Blue chip stocks were mixed early Thursday. In the Dow Jones industrial average, Boeing (BA) and Merck (MRK) each rose more than 1%. While the Dow is up 22% year to date, Boeing is up 81%. Drugmaker Merck is down 6% year so far this year.

There are two factors that could be creating caution in the stock market. First, the nonfarm payrolls report for November will be released before the market’s open Friday. The range of estimates is wide — 153,000 on the low side and 250,000 on the high side. The consensus calls for 190,000 jobs gained.

Second, traders could be waiting for the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting Tuesday and Wednesday. The Street is expecting a quarter-point hike that will boost rates to 1.25% to 1.50% vs. the current 1% to 1.25%. CME Group’s FedWatch Tool sees a 90.2% chance of a quarter-point increase. A 9.8% chance is seen for a half-point hike.

As interest rates rise, bank profits should improve. However, it isn’t clear how much of that improvement is already priced into the bank stocks. The big money-center banks appear headed for a third down day in a row. Volume, though, has been light for the bank pullbacks.

Two additional wild-card factors are kicking around in Congress — a partial rollback of Dodd-Frank regulations and the tax-cut bill. The Republican tax-cut bill seems to be faring well so far.

Economic News

The Challenger job cut report rose 30% in November vs. the same month a year ago. But the figure year to date is the lowest since 1997.

First-time jobless claims totaled 236,000, which was almost 2% below the 240,000 expected.


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Originally posted 2017-12-07 16:51:23.


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