U.S. stocks closed higher Thursday, with the Dow up more than 100 points, as investors continued to analyze the flow of corporate earnings and a series of conflicting economic reports, but sentiment was buoyed by strong market debuts from Pinterest Inc. and Zoom Video Communications Inc.
How did the indexes fare?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.42% rose 110 points, or 0.4%, to 26,559.54 and the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.16% added 4.58 points, or 0.2%, to 2,905.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.02% meanwhile, reversed its earlier drop to edge up 1.98 points to 7,998.06.
Stocks finished out the week on a generally positive note. The S&P 500 shed about 0.1% but the Dow climbed 0.6% and the Nasdaq gained 0.2%. Markets will be closed for the Good Friday.
What drove the market?
Investors were deluged with a series of earnings reports and data that sent inconsistent messages about the health of the U.S. and global economies.
The first-quarter earnings outlook has improved somewhat, according to CFRA, which said consensus estimates now call for a 2.3% fall in first-quarter operating earnings a share. That is up from the call for a 3% drop ahead of the kickoff of earnings season, but down from the 4.5% increase projected at the end of last year. Meanwhile, second-quarter earnings are now forecast to eke out a 0.3% advance, CFRA said, which would avert an earnings recession—commonly defined as consecutive quarters of falling profit.
Retail sales data showed a rise of 1.6% in March, beating consensus estimates. The increase was driven by a 3.5% rise in auto sales, but even with autos and gas stripped out, sales rose by 0.9%, after February’s 0.4% decline.
IHS Markit said its U.S. composite PMI—a survey-based measure of activity in the manufacturing and services sectors—fell to