12:34 PM, Jun 8, 2017 — US markets strengthened on Thursday as investors kept a close eye on testimony by former FBI director James Comey, and other major events.
In the highly anticipated remarks to the US Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey, who was fired by Donald Trump, said he kept notes on conversations he had with the president because he thought the leader might lie. While markets initially fluctuated, they added to gains as Comey wasn’t seen as offering a so-called smoking gun that might hinder Trump and his policy plans.
Investors are also monitoring other key events, including a decision by the European Central bank to hold interest rates while raising growth forecasts and lowering the inflation outlook, and a general election in the UK.
Financials led gains on the Standard & Poor’s 500, rising 1.3% to pull the overall index slightly higher in the early afternoon. Utilities fell 1.4% in the steepest decline. On the Dow Jones Industrial Average, bank heavyweights topped the advancers, with JPMorgan Chase (JPM) rising 1.8% and Goldman Sachs (GS) increasing 1.5%.
Nvidia (NVDA) posted one of the best increases on Nasdaq, rising 5.6% after Citigroup reportedly said the shares could climb another 21% the next 12 months.
In company news, Vail Resorts (MTN) shed 3% after reporting fiscal third quarter earnings and revenue that missed Wall Street estimates, while lowering its full year net income guidance. Alibaba (BABA) surged 11% after CFO Maggie Wu said the company expects revenue growth between 45% and 49% in fiscal 2018, Reuters reported.
Urban Outfitters (URBN) slid 7.6% after the apparel retailer said its comparable retail segments net sales for the current fiscal second quarter are high single-digit negative. Nordstrom (JWN) rallied 11% after saying it’s exploring a going-private transaction with members of the Nordstrom family.
Economic data showed initial jobless claims were lower by 10,000 in the week to June 3 at 245,000, but that was higher than the 241,000 expected.
In afternoon trading, the Dow rose 0.3% while the Nasdaq and S&P 500 were both up about 0.2%.
Globally, the FTSE 100 and the Nikkei 225 both fell 0.4%, while the Shanghai Composite and the Hang Seng added 0.3%.