New York: US stocks rallied at the opening of Thursday’s trading, led by gains in technology shares, in the wake of Wednesday’s rout that wiped out this year’s gains in benchmark indexes. Yields on Treasuries rose and the dollar strengthened.
Strong earnings results from Twitter, Microsoft and Tesla helped push the S&P 500 Index into positive territory for the first time in seven days. The sentiment was darker in Asia, where shares fell for a third day, with Japan’s Topix index falling to the lowest in more than a year, Bloomberg reports.
“The question is: can we go the distance?” said Donald Selkin, chief market strategist at Newbridge Securities. “You have to see how it goes. We’re maintaining gains so far.”
Losses for world stocks since January is now close to $7 trillion.
Sentiment has been tested in October, with global stocks poised for their worst month in more than six years as the effects of trade tensions and geopolitical uncertainty begin to bite. Investors remain apprehensive as a flood of earnings, while mostly stellar, have come with warnings about the future impact of tariffs and rising costs.
According to Reuters, Microsoft jumped 6.1 per cent after topping consensus estimates for revenue and profit, helped by strong demand for its Azure cloud computing and Office 365 software products. The results, along with gains for chipmakers, lifted technology stocks up 2.32 per cent. The sector has lost about 10 per cent in October and, if losses hold it would be the worst month for the high-growth sector in nearly 10 years.
Ford Motor, which is struggling with sales in China, surged 7.4 per cent as its earnings report raised hopes for a strong finish to the year.
Central banks remain in the spotlight, with investors speculating what, if any, impact the market uncertainty will have on policy decisions.
“What makes the latest volatility more troubling is that it’s been difficult to identify one specific cause,” Kerry Craig, global markets strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, wrote in a note. “Meanwhile, central banks will continue to get top billing as the Fed pushes on with normalising interest rates and the ECB is set to end its bond purchase scheme by year end.”
Gains for some, losses for many
Tesla Inc. blew away expectations with just the third quarter of positive earnings in its history. The profit and cash that Tesla generated sent its shares surging to levels last seen in August, when the CEO, Elon Musk, tried to take the company private. The stock sold off in the intervening months, after Musk’s claim that he had “funding secured” for such a deal proved faulty and landed him in legal jeopardy.
Almost 60 per cent of the 2,767 stocks in MSCI’s global equity index are now in bear-market territory — down 20 per cent or more from their most recent peaks. Pan Asia-Pacific shares skidded more than 2 per cent while Japan’s Nikkei tumbled as much as 4 per cent to a six-month low. The one relief was that Chinese shares managed to close in the black after dropping as much as 2.5 per cent at one point.
The current global equities rout isn’t the start of a big bear market, according to Joachim Fels, global economic adviser at Pacific Investment Management Co. Instead, the sell off could prove to be a healthy correction that helps extend the current business cycle. “What we are seeing is just normal at this stage of the cycle,” he said.