U.S. stock indexes gave up early gains Thursday morning as chaos deepened in Afghanistan following two explosions outside the airport in Kabul. Investors are also monitoring the Federal Reserve as it kicked off a two-day event that could lay the foundation for tapering and rate hikes.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 117 points or 0.33%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite declined 0.48% apiece. Both the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite index closed at all-time highs on Wednesday.
At least three U.S. Marines were injured in an explosion outside the Abbey Gate at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. A second explosion and gunfire near the airport were also reported.
The Fed’s virtual Jackson Hole Symposium begins Thursday, but the key event will be Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech on Friday that could signal when the central bank could begin to scale back its asset purchases and eventually raise interest rates in an effort to rein in inflation.
Ahead of Powell's remarks, Kansas City Fed President Ester George gave her own assessment of the economy in an interview with FOX Business.
"I think as we look at the outlook for the economy there has been good progress on the labor market front, certainly the inflation numbers are coming in strong would suggest that there's an opportunity to begin to dial back on asset purchases so that adjustment process the conversation about that is already underway" she said.
Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George on the U.S. economy and tapering measures.
In economic data, second-quarter gross domestic product was revised up to 6.6% growth from the initial estimate of 6.5%. This as initial jobless claims ticked up to 353,000, but remained near a pandemic-era low.
In stocks, financials were in focus as investors looked ahead to Powell’s speech and clues for when rate hikes might begin.
Elsewhere, Western Digital Corp. and Japan’s Kioxia Holdings Corp. are in talks to merge in a more than $20 billion deal that would create a giant chipmaker, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter.
Ticker Security Last Change Change % WD WALKER & DUNLOP INC 99.80 -1.54 -1.52%
In earnings, Salesforce.com Inc.’s quarterly results topped analysts’ expectations and the company raised its full-year earnings forecast after closing its acquisition of workplace messenger Slack.
Ticker Security Last Change Change % CRM SALESFORCE.COM, INC. 272.95 +11.73 +4.49%
Dollar General Corp.’s full-year profit forecast missed estimates as the company worried higher costs would hurt margins. Rival Dollar Tree Inc. slashed its annual profit forecast amid similar concerns and noted supply chain issues.
Kitchenware and home goods retailer Williams-Sonoma Inc. raised its quarterly dividend by 20.3% to 71 cents per share and announced a new $1.25 billion share buyback program. The company’s earnings and sales exceeded Wall Street estimates.
Ticker Security Last Change Change % WSM WILLIAMS-SONOMA, INC. 188.28 +17.77 +10.42%
Cosmetics maker Coty Inc. reported better than expected top and bottom-line results and forecast annual sales growth for the first time in at least three years. Beauty products retailer Ulta Beauty Inc. also issued a strong full-year sales forecast.
In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil slid 78 cents to $67.58 a barrel and gold ticked up 90 cents to $1791.90 an ounce.
Overseas markets were mostly lower.
European bourses were under modest selling pressure with Germany’s DAX 30 declining 0.48%, France’s CAC 40 sinking 0.29% and Britain’s FTSE 100 slipping 0.28%.
In Asia, South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.58% after the Bank of Korea hikes interest rates.
Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index and China’s Shanghai Composite lost 1.08% and 1.09%, respectively, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 eked out a 0.06% gain.