By Yashaswini Swamynathan
U.S. stocks were flat on Thursday, with investors seemingly wary of taking on risk ahead of Donald Trump's swearing-in as U.S. president on Friday. After having driven Wall Street to record highs in a post-election rally, investors are on the sidelines as they await Trump's inaugural speech to get a steer on his policies.Markets are also eyeing a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. "Investors' concerns on Trump delivering his campaign promises is probably the real 'Fear Factor'," Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial wrote in a note. With the fourth-quarter earnings season picking up pace, Dow components IBM and American Express, scheduled to report results after market close, will be in focus. In an appearance on Wednesday, Yellen said the U.S. economy was getting closer to running on its own, but soothed some nerves by adding that it made sense to raise interest rates gradually.Yellen is expected to speak on monetary policy at Stanford University at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Investors have been worried that Trump's pro-growth policy proposals may boost inflation, forcing the central bank to increase the pace of rate hikes. Yellen's comments on Wednesday indicated that the plan to raise rates three times this year is not "farfetched", Cardillo said. At 9:37 a.m. ET (1437 GMT) the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 9.34 points, or 0.05 percent, at 19,814.06 - snapping a four-day losing streak. The S&P 500 was up 1.8 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,273.69 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 11.46 points, or 0.21 percent, at 5,567.11.
A report on jobless claims showed that 234,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, far fewer than 254,000 that economists expected. Five of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 0.82 percent rise in industrials. The sector also powered the Dow. Railroad provider CSX Corp jumped more than 17 percent after a source said former Canadian Pacific Chief Executive Hunter Harrison is in advanced talks to team up with a former Pershing Square Capital partner, seeking to shake up CSX.
Union Pacific was up 4 percent at $107.93 after the company reported a better-than-expected quarterly net profit.Netflix gave the biggest bump to the Nasdaq, rising 6.2 percent after the streaming video provider said it added far more subscribers in its latest quarter than what was expected.Tesla rose 3.5 percent after Panasonic said it aimed to extend its partnership with the electric carmaker into self-driving technology.Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,311 to 1,241. On the Nasdaq, 1,152 issues rose and 1,029 fell.The S&P 500 index showed 10 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 29 new highs and six new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)
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Updated Date: Jan 19, 2017 22:15:04 IST