The major averages finished higher Thursday, as investors weighed central bank updates and corporate earnings results. The Dow added 3 points while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite gained 0.4% and 0.3% respectively.
Stocks pared early session losses after New York Federal Reserve President John Williams said the central bank needed to “act quickly” amid a slowing economy, and that it is better to “take preventative measures than to wait for disaster to unfold.” After the speech, Treasuries strengthened with the yield on the 10-year note down three basis points to 2.02%. On the data front, an update showed U.S. leading indicators unexpectedly declined 0.3% in June, missing expectations of a 0.1% increase. A separate release showed the business outlook in the Philadelphia Fed region surged the most in a decade in June.
Seven of 11 S&P 500 sectors ended higher, with the Consumer Staples group pacing the gains. Financials also outperformed with Morgan Stanley climbing 1.5% after topping analyst forecasts on both the top and bottom line. Meanwhile, Netflix weighed on the Communications group after notching its largest decline in nearly three years. Shares slumped 10.3% after posting a drop in U.S. subscribers for the first time in eight years. In other earnings, IBM climbed 4.6% after besting analyst earnings estimates amid growth in its cloud segment. Union Pacific Corp added 5.9% after topping consensus profit projections and giving positive forward guidance.
In commodities, WTI crude shed 2.6% to $55.30/barrel near a two-week low. COMEX gold jumped 1.8% to $1,449.20/ounce amid a weaker dollar.