Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Banks lead early gains for stocks after raising dividends

by Associated Press

Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, led by gains in major banks after many of them announced plans to return billions more to their shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buybacks. The S&P 500 was up 0.2% early Tuesday. Morgan Stanley rose 3% in the early going and Goldman Sachs added 1.5%. With two trading days left in June, the market is getting ready to close out a strong first half of the year as the economy emerges from its pandemic-induced recession. The S&P 500 is on track for a gain of more than 14% for the first half.

European stock markets opened higher Tuesday while Asia declined as investors looked ahead to U.S. jobs data for signs of inflation pressure.

London and Frankfurt gained while Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong closed lower. Wall Street futures were mixed.

Investors are swinging between optimism about a global economic recovery underpinned by coronavirus vaccinations and worry that central banks might feel pressure to withdraw stimulus to cool rising inflation pressures.

Traders are watching U.S. jobs data due out Friday for signs of whether the labor market “will start to show initial signs of heating,” Anderson Alves of ActivTrades said in a report.

The Federal Reserve says it believes a rise in prices of oil and other commodities is temporary. Wage increases can be more lasting.

Also Tuesday, the World Bank raised its forecast of China’s economic growth this year to 8.5% from its April prediction of 8.1%. The Washington-based lender said a full recovery requires progress in vaccinations against the coronavirus.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.3% to 7,095.06 and Frankfurt’s DAX added 0.6% to 15,642.81. The CAC 40 in Paris advanced 0.3% to 6,580.65.

On Wall Street, the future for the S&P 500 index was off less than 0.1% while that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.2%.

On Monday, S&P 500 rose 0.2% to a record as gains for Facebook, Nvidia and other tech stocks offset losses for other industries. The Dow shed 0.4% while the Nasdaq composite added 1%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.9% to 3,573.18 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.8% to 28,812.61.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 1% to 28,983.89 after the Chinese territory banned airline flights from Britain starting Thursday in a new effort to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus variant.

The Kospi in Seoul retreated 0.5% to 3,286.68 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost less than 0.1% to 7,301.20.

India’s Sensex declined less than 0.1% to 52,691.47. New Zealand, Bangkok and Jakarta advanced while Singapore declined.

Stock prices look expensive to some investors after rising faster than corporate profits. Inflation remains a worry, even if more U.S. investors have come around to the Federal Reserve’s view that it will be only a temporary problem.

Economists expect Friday’s U.S. jobs numbers to show employers added 700,000 more than they cut in June, an improvement over previous months. They also expect the report to show that average hourly earnings jumped 3.7% in June from a year earlier.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude 2 cents to $72.89 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.14 to $72.91 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 4 cents to $74.10 per barrel in London.

The dollar advanced to 110.74 yen from Monday’s 110.55 yen. The euro retreated to $1.1908 from $1.1923.

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