MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stock Market Ends Higher; Cisco, Wal-Mart Jump After Earnings

By Sue Chang and William Watts, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Nasdaq finishes at record high

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U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday, with earnings-inspired gains by Cisco and Wal-Mart helping to set the pace, while House passage of a Republican-sponsored tax cut plan helped cement the rally.

What are the main benchmarks doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended with a gain of 187.08 points, or 0.8%, at 23,458.36 after rising as much as 221 points earlier in the session. The S&P 500 climbed 21.02 points, or 0.8%, to finish at 2,585.64. The S&P 500 telecom and consumer staples sectors were top gainers.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 87.08 points, or 1.3%, to finish at a record 6,793.29.

On Wednesday, the Dow and the S&P 500 both closed 0.6% lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-futures-tumble-more-than-100-points-as-mood-for-risk-sours-2017-11-15), and the Nasdaq Composite gave up 0.5%. The S&P and Dow suffered their biggest percentage drops since Sept. 5, with analysts blaming the fall on worries about a U.S. tax overhaul. In addition, a slide in oil prices on Wednesday put pressure on energy stocks.

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What drove the market?

The passage of the tax bill was widely expected but it does not enjoy bipartisan support and in all likelihood, the final version is likely to look much different given that the Senate Finance Committee is proposing a bill that differs with it in key areas.

Read:House passes tax overhaul as spotlight turns to Senate (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/house-passes-tax-overhaul-as-spotlight-turns-to-senate-2017-11-16)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/house-passes-tax-overhaul-as-spotlight-turns-to-senate-2017-11-16)Strong gains by Wal-Mart and Cisco lifted the Dow, while Cisco's rise also helped fuel the Nasdaq gains.

What are strategists saying?

U.S. stocks took a cue from a rebound by European equities, which broke their longest losing streak in a year, said Kristina Hooper, global markets strategist at Invesco. That suggested investors were becoming more comfortable with the global growth picture after some previous unease, she said, and underscored that recent market action hasn't been dictated solely by concerns surrounding tax-cut legislation.

At the same time, stocks could be vulnerable to a downturn if tax legislation falters, she said, arguing that the administration's call for a cut in the corporate rate to 20% from 35% and allowing companies to immediately expense equipment purchases are key features.

Analysts said stocks could struggle following this week's earlier pullback.

"Traders are trying to figure out whether today's positive move is just a bounce back or the beginning of the next upward move. US equities have enjoyed a very bullish run lately, so a pullback would not be a surprise," said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note.

How did other assets fare?

Oil futures (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-stabilize-after-prior-days-slump-showing-little-change-2017-11-16) ended at two-week l (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-stabilize-after-prior-days-slump-showing-little-change-2017-11-16)ows, still shadowed by an unexpected rise in weekly crude output.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-drops-as-fears-build-that-tax-reform-plans-will-drag-2017-11-15) inched up, while gold futures notched a small gain (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-churns-near-even-pinned-in-by-steady-dollar-higher-stock-indicators-2017-11-16). The 10-year Treasury yield (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/treasury-yields-rise-as-global-equities-bounce-2017-11-16) rose.

Read:This chart suggests U.S. Treasury yield will follow its Chinese peer higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-chart-suggests-us-treasury-yield-will-follow-its-chinese-peer-higher-2017-11-16)

Which stocks were key movers?

Shares of Dow component Cisco Systems Inc.(CSCO) jumped 5.2% a day after the maker of networking equipment delivered better-than-expected quarterly results and an encouraging outlook (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cisco-shares-surge-as-earnings-outlook-top-street-views-2017-11-15).

Don't miss:Cisco promises return to growth, but for how long? (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cisco-promises-return-to-growth-but-for-how-long-2017-11-15)

Fellow Dow component Wal-Mart Stores Inc.(WMT) climbed 11% in the wake of the retailer posting stronger-than-expected earnings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wal-marts-stock-jumps-toward-record-high-after-profit-and-sales-beat-raised-outlook-2017-11-16) early Thursday.

Read more:Wal-Mart's in-store and digital sales put it a step ahead (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wal-mart-earnings-in-store-and-digital-sales-put-it-a-step-ahead-of-the-competition-2017-11-13)

The retail giant has been a strong performer throughout 2017, up more than 33%. That stands in contrast to retail overall, with the SPDR S&P Retail ETF (XRT) down more than 7% in 2017.

See:Here's how tied retail stocks are to Black Friday and holiday shopping (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-tied-retail-stocks-are-to-black-friday-and-holiday-shopping-2017-11-16)

NetApp Inc.(NTAP) soared 16% after the data-storage company's better-than-expected results (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/netapp-shares-jump-on-earnings-sales-beat-2017-11-15) late Wednesday.

Retailer Best Buy Co.(BBY) fell 3.6% after it reported revenue that came in below analyst forecasts and gave a weak profit outlook (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/best-buy-shares-slide-after-revenue-miss-weak-earnings-outlook-2017-11-16).

Folgers and Pillsbury parent J.M. Smucker Co.(SJM) rose 9.5% after it reported earnings that came in above analyst forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jm-smucker-shares-jump-23-premarket-as-earnings-top-estimates-2017-11-16).

Media giant Viacom Inc.(VIA) fell 3.7% after it reported its quarterly results (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/viacom-blows-past-estimates-sending-stock-up-12-premarket-2017-11-16).

Away from earnings-related moves, Procter & Gamble Co.'s stock (PG) gained 1.2% following news that storied activist investor Nelson Peltz had narrowly won a seat (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/activist-nelson-peltz-narrowly-wins-seat-on-pg-board-2017-11-15) on the consumer-products giant's board.

Auto maker Tesla Inc.'s stock (TSLA) surrendered most of its gains to rise 0.4% ahead of the unveiling of its electric semi truck (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/four-things-tesla-needs-to-reveal-when-it-launches-the-semi-truck-2017-11-15) that is on tap after the market's close.

See:Elon Musk opens up on love life, traumatic childhood, Tesla goals (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/elon-musk-opens-up-on-love-life-traumatic-childhood-tesla-goals-2017-11-15)

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.(GS) rose 0.7% and Morgan Stanley(MS) advanced 1% on the day. Earlier, there was news of a lawsuit that alleges those two banks and other lenders secretly shared client information (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/lawsuit-alleges-goldman-other-big-banks-shared-client-info-to-rig-us-treasurys-auctions-2017-11-16) to rig auctions for the U.S. Treasury market.

What economic releases were investors watching?

Initial jobless claims rose a higher-than-expected 10,000 in the latest week (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-jobless-claims-jump-to-6-week-high-2017-11-16), hitting a six-week high, although they remain at historically low levels. Continuing jobless claims were at their lowest since December 1973.

Separately, U.S. import prices rose 0.2% in October, while industrial production rose 0.9% in October (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/industrial-production-surges-in-october-tops-forecast-2017-11-16), above the 0.6% growth that had been expected.

The National Association of Home Builders said its monthly confidence gauge rose two points to 70 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/home-builder-confidence-climbs-to-8-month-high-in-november-nahb-says-2017-11-16)in November.

Check out:MarketWatch's Economic Calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic)

In a speech at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said that demographic change in the U.S. will result in a slower-growing and older population (http://www.marketwatch.com/(S(o54cffqhipqemynavg0qd455))/story/fed-must-pay-attention-to-trend-toward-older-population-mester-says-2017-11-16), and that the Federal Reserve must be alert to the impact of this transition on economic growth and interest rates.

Later, Mester told reporters (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/harvard-economist-feldstein-sees-greater-chance-stocks-will-plunge-2017-11-16) that she didn't think Fed policy was encouraging "excessive risk taking in the market."

Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan was due to participate in a discussion at a CFA Society of Houston event at 1:10 p.m. Eastern, while Fed Gov. Lael Brainard is scheduled to talk at a University of Michigan Law School conference at 3:45 p.m. Eastern. San Francisco Fed President John Williams is addressing a forum on Asia in the City by the Bay at 4:45 p.m. Eastern.

Now read:CEO Bill McNabb reveals 'probably the thing we worry most about at Vanguard' (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ceo-bill-mcnabb-reveals-probably-the-thing-we-worry-most-about-at-vanguard-2017-11-16)

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ceo-bill-mcnabb-reveals-probably-the-thing-we-worry-most-about-at-vanguard-2017-11-16)--Victor Reklaitis and Ryan Vlastelica contributed to this article.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 16, 2017 16:32 ET (21:32 GMT)