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US open: Mixed start to trading, slate of IPOs in focus

18 Apr, 2019 15:02


(Sharecast News) - Wall Street trading began on a mixed note with investors in a slate of flotations hoping for a 'good Thursday' ahead of the Easter break even as more earnings releases rolled in.

At 1525 BST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.04% at 26,458.28. However, the S&P 500 was down 0.25% to 2,892.33 and the Nasdaq Composite off by 0.55% at 7,951.44.

The Dow had opened 70 points firmer as a news conference held by US Attorney General William Barr on the release of Special Council Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election kicked off.

In corporate news, it was all about initial public offerings with stock in Pinterest being called to open at between $22.50 to $23.50 or 24% above its IPO price.

Cannabis vape hardware maker Greenlane Holdings was climbing 42% alongside.

Zoom Video Communications's market debut was also in focus, with the company having lifted the pricing range for its float from $28-$32 to $33-$35 just two days before.

Honeywell was 2.95% higher in early trade as its first-quarter earnings and sales late on Wednesday beat estimates and it lifted its outlook for the full year.

Elsewhere, shares in Philip Morris were down 2.96% after its cut its forecast again, while Schlumberger shares were up by 1.03% despite warning that the US shale boom appeared to be slowing.

American Express was adding 1.03% following news that cardholders lifted spending and borrowing again over the latest quarter in order to boost the group's revenues.

London Capital Group analyst Jasper Lawler said: "Moving into this earnings season, markets were expecting a tough quarter. So far, we are just not seeing the significantly lower figures that the markets have been expecting.

"That's not to say there haven't been some losers, such as IBM down 5.5% after revenue fell for a third straight quarter and Netflix which closed 1.6% lower after subscriber guidance numbers fell."

On the data front, US retail sales jumped the most in a year and a half last month as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and other goods.

The Commerce Department revealed that retail sales had surged 1.6% in March - the biggest increase since September 2017 - followed an unrevised 0.2% drop in February.

Elsewhere, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, according to data from the Labor Department.

US initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 from the previous week's level to 192,000, versus expectations for a level of 205,000 and marking the lowest level for initial claims since 6 September 1969. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 to 197,000.

The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index slipped to 8.5 in April, well shy of the 13.7 recorded in March and the 11 predicted by economists.

On a more positive note, the new orders sub-index jumped 14 points to 15.7, although the current shipments index fell 2 points and delivery times fell to their first negative reading in two and a half years.

The index on the outlook for future activity fell to its lowest reading since February 2016.

In other news, the IHS Markit manufacturing PMI stayed unchanged at 52.4 in April, printing slightly below the market estimate of 52.8, while the preliminary services PMI for the same month came in at 52.9, which was short of the 55.0 expected and the lowest reading since March 2017.

Business inventories were still to come at 1530 BST.

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