US Stock Market Overview – Apples Surges, Biogen Tumbles

Apple breaks out on share upgrade
David Becker
apple store in new york

US equity markets surged higher on Thursday, driven by gains in technology shares. Nearly all sectors were higher, with only financials bucking the trend. The Fed’s commentary on Wednesday which was more dovish than expected initially catapulted the markets on Wednesday, but traders took profits only to get back on board the trend on Thursday. Yields rebounded and the dollar whipsawed.  Crude oil prices moved higher initially, pushing back above the $60 handle, but was unable to close above that psychologically important level.

Apple Was Upgraded to a Strong Buy

Apple shares broke out above the 200-day moving average, following an upgrade before the opening bell. Apple was upgraded to strong buy from buy at Needham on Thursday, as the firm primarily sees Apple’s ecosystem as having value upside. Apple shares rose 3.7%. Needham also raised its price target on Apple to $225 from $180, a 20 percent increase from Wednesday’s close. This is very positive news for the broader markets as many ETFs hold Apple which will help drive the broader markets.

Nike reported revenues that were softer than expected which weighed on the shares in the post market trading session. Jobless claims unexpectedly fell, showing that the jobs market is still robust. The Nasdaq was the best performing index, rising 1.42%. Technology shares surged rising 2.62%, while consumer staples also gained traction rising 1.92%.

Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Fell

Jobless claims unexpectedly fell on Thursday as the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits udeclined. Initial claims slipped 3,000 to 223,000 for the week ended March 2, according to the Labor Department. Expectations were that claims would be unchanged at 225,000 in the latest week. The four-week moving average of initial claims, fell 3,000 to 226,250 last week, the lowest level in a month.

Nike Reported a Beat on EPS and a Miss on Revenues

Nike reported financial results after the closing bell. While earnings beat renveue missed.  The shares of the company dropped 3% in the after market. Earnings per share increased by $0.68 compared to expectations they would rise by $0.65. Revenue came in at $9.61 billion compared to $9.612 billion expected.

Energy Shares Continue to Rally

Crude oil prices hit a higher high on Thursday and continued to help energy shares remain buoyed. Prices continue to test the $60 following Wednesday larger than expected draw in total petroleum inventories. Demand was solid. Demand averaged 21.1 million barrels per day, up by 2.8% from the same period last year. Distillate fuel demand averaged 4.2 million barrels per day over the past four weeks, up by 8.2% from the same period last year.

Biotechnology Shares Tumble

Biogen shares tumbled more than 25% after the company announced that they are ending two late-stage trials for an experimental Alzheimer’s therapy. The announcement, which an independent committee found the trials for the experimental drug aducanumab were unlikely to succeed, sent shares plunging more than 25%.

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