US stocks bounced back on Thursday, ending the session in positive territory as investors continue to digest the minutes of last month’s Federal Reserve meeting.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 87.06 points higher at 34,583.57, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite finished up 0.43% and 0.06%, respectively.
|I:DJI||DOW JONES AVERAGE||34721.12||+137.55||+0.40%|
|I:COMP||NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX||13710.996005||-186.30||-1.34%|
Policymakers at the central bank signaled that surging inflation and an incredibly tight labor market could warrant a half-point interest rate hike at future meetings. The minutes also reaffirmed Fed Governor Lael Brainard’s remarks on Tuesday that the Fed could start to reduce the balance sheet at a “rapid pace” as early as May.
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The Fed comments have added to investor unease over the war in Ukraine, coronavirus outbreaks in China and persistently high inflation. Following the release of the Fed minutes, the 10-year Treasury yield spiked above 2.6%.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added to those worries, pushing energy and commodity prices higher. Oil is trading at nearly $100 per barrel.
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On the economic front, 166,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, well below analysts’ expectations of 200,000. Continuing claims, which track the total number of unemployed workers collecting benefits, rose more than expected to 1.523 million, up from a revised 1.506 million.
In February, consumer credit increased by $41.8 billion, an 11.3% annual increase, blowing past economist expectations of a $15 billion gain.
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In stocks, HP Inc finished up 14% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway disclosed a purchase of nearly 121 million of the company’s shares, or a roughly 11.4% stake.
Conagra Brands has changed little after giving profit guidance below Wall Street expectations. Net income for the company’s fiscal third quarter totaled $218.4 million, or 45 cents per share, down from $281.4 million, or 58 cents per share, last year. Adjusted earnings per share came in at 58 cents and revenue came in at $2.914 billion.
“We experienced higher-than-expected cost pressures as the third quarter progressed and expect those pressures to continue into the fourth quarter, particularly in certain frozen, refrigerated, and snacks businesses,” Conagra Brands CEO Sean Connolly said in a statement. “In response, we have taken steps to implement additional inflation-driven pricing actions. We will begin to see the benefits of these actions in the first quarter of fiscal 2023.”
For the fourth quarter, Conagra anticipates net sales growth of 7% and adjusted earnings per share of 64 cents. For the full year, it expects net sales growth of 4% and adjusted EPS of $2.35.
|CAG||CONAGRA BRANDS INC.||34.50||+0.07||+0.20%|
Levi Strauss is also little changed despite the apparel maker reporting an adjusted quarterly profit of 46 cents per share, beating Wall Street expectations.
|LEVI||LEVI STRAUSS & CO.||18.79||-0.48||-2.49%|
Rite Aid finished down 17% after being downgraded from “hold” to “sell” by Deutsche Bank.
|WHEEL||RITE AID CORP.||7.50||+0.51||+7.30%|
Rent the Runway fell 2% after the fashion rental company said it would increase prices on its popular eight-item plan to $144 per month from $134 and to $235 from $195 a month for its 16-item plan due to inflation.
|RENT||RENT THE RUNWAY INC.||5.42||-0.09||-1.63%|
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In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index lost 1.7%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 1.2% and China’s Shanghai Composite index and South Korea’s Kospi each shed 1.4%. In Europe, the CAC40, Stoxx50 and DAX indexes all fell 0.5%.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.