July 19th, 2024

Stock market today: Wall Street edges higher ahead of bank earnings and Powell testimony this week

By Zimo Zhong And Matt Ott, The Associated Press on July 8, 2024.

FILE - A person walks past at an electronic stock board showing financial indexes including Japan's Nikkei 225 index, green, at a securities firm in Tokyo, June 27, 2024. Asian shares were mostly lower on Friday, July 5, after solid gains in Europe overnight, while U.S. markets were closed for the July 4th holiday. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama, File)

NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are a bit higher in early trading on Wall Street, adding to the record highs they set last week. The S&P 500 was up 0.2% in the first few minutes of trading Monday. The Nasdaq edged up 0.1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 233 points, or 0.6%. Traders are looking ahead to several earnings reports this week including updates from Delta Air Lines on Thursday and JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo on Friday. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell addresses Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. Treasury yields rose slightly in the bond market.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Wall Street shifted between tiny gains and losses early Monday as earnings season kicks off amid another busy week for Federal Reserve and its inflation watchers.

Futures for the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were each up less than 0.1% before the bell.

Entertainment giant Paramount Global climbed another 2.1% after it agreed to merge with Skydance. Several companies had been seeking to acquire Paramount, which owns CBS and was behind blockbuster films such as “Top Gun” and “The Godfather.” Paramount shares are up about 25% since mid-June.

Boeing ticked up about 1% in early trading Monday after the aerospace giant agreed to plead guilty to a criminal fraud charge stemming from two crashes of 737 Max jetliners that killed 346 people. The government determined the company violated an agreement that had protected it from prosecution for more than three years, the Justice Department said Sunday night.

Coming later this week are quarterly financial results from several major banks as earnings season revs up. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo all report Friday. Delta Air Lines and PepsiCo report Thursday.

Also this week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. Powell’s comments will be closely watched for hints about the Fed’s interest rate policy. The Fed has kept it benchmark borrowing rate at its highest level in more than two decades in an attempt to extinguish the persistent inflation that arose after the U.S. economy rebounded from the brief but sharp pandemic recession.

Powell and other Fed officials will be tuned in to the latest government data on inflation coming on Thursday and Friday. While inflation has slowed in the past two years, it remains above the Fed’s 2% target. Most experts are expecting one rate cut from the Fed this year, but not until September. The Fed holds its next policy later this month.

Elsewhere, Asian stocks fell while European markets were higher Monday after France’s elections left its legislature divided among left, center and far right, with no single political faction getting close to a majority.

The CAC-40 index of large companies has erased the losses in early trading and was 0.3% higher.

The markets worst fear, analysts say, was a majority for either the left-wing New Front National or for the anti-immigrant National Rally led by Marine Le Pen. Both parties have made spending promises that raised fears France’s already-large deficit would swell. That has already led to a sell-off in French government bonds.

Though that outcome was avoided, France now faces weeks of uncertainty since there’s no clear majority for any of the main political forces in parliament to support a new government after Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said he would resign. That raises the likelihood that any new government will find it difficult to pass legislation and make tough spending choices in order to keep the country’s debts and deficit from getting out of hand.

“That the left has become the strongest group in parliament raises serious concerns,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg bank. “France is heading for a period of political uncertainty and ““ most likely ““ for fiscal problems and some reversal of President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-growth reforms. “

The euro currency rose to $1.0830.

In Europe at midday, Germany’s DAX rose 0.4% and the FTSE 100 in London was up 0.3%.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index was down 0.3% to 40,780.70 despite official data showing the real wages fell 1.4% year on year in May, a decline for the 26th straight month as the weakening yen and higher commodity costs pushed up the cost of imports. While the nominal wages rose 1.9%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 1.6% to 17,524.06 and the Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.9% to 2,922.45.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 sank 0.8% to 7,763.20 while South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.2% lower to 2,857.76.

In other dealings Monday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gave up 80 cents, down to $82.36 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international standard, declined 67 cents to $85.87 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 160.92 Japanese yen from 160.72 yen.

U.S. stocks rose to more records Friday boosted by a highly anticipated report on the job market.

On Friday, the S&P 500 climbed 0.5% to 5,567.19, setting an all-time high for a third straight day following Thursday’s pause in trading for the Fourth of July holiday. The index has already set 34 records and climbed close to 17% this year, which is only a little more than halfway done.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% to 39,375.87, while the Nasdaq composite added 0.9% to 18,352.76.

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