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On 20 April, 2017 - Cheered on by corporate earnings, investors sent global indices higher

Anne D Picker, Econoday

Asian markets rose as oil prices rebounded.

United States

Investors were cheered by the latest earnings reports from financial and industrial companies and stock markets rallied. The Dow Jones industrials were up 0.85 percent, the S&P was up 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.9 percent. Transportation, basic materials and financial companies rallied.

CSX jumped after releasing surprisingly strong earnings. Better-than-expected quarterly net profit thanks to rising freight volumes and it said that plans to cut costs and boost profitability were moving forward. Basic materials shares including Kaiser Aluminum, AK Steel, United States Steel and Cliff Natural Resources climbed on a surge in US steel companies after President Donald Trump ordered a probe in whether foreign imports hurt national security. Sherwin-Williams also advanced. American Express was higher after a strong earnings report. Philip Morris retreated after the company’s first-quarter profit forecast fell below estimates.

Visa’s operating revenues increased 23 percent from a year ago to $4.5 billion in the quarter to the end of March. Revenues were helped by the inclusion of Visa Europe, which it acquired last June, as well as growth in payments and transactions volume. Net earnings tumbled 75 percent to $430 million or 18 cents per share, due to charges from reorganizing the Visa Europe unit to align the company’s overall corporate structure.

Initial jobless claims were up 10,000 to 244,000 in the sample week for the April employment report. Continuing claims tumbled a sizable 49,000 to 1.979 million for a 17-year low. The April reading for the Philadelphia Fed business outlook survey declined to 22.0 from 32.8 in March. New orders have been unusually strong which other than March and February was the strongest rate of monthly growth in 6 years. Unfilled orders keep piling up for a 6th straight monthly gain which is a rare streak for this reading.

These data reflect observations at 4:00 PM US ET. Gold at the afternoon London fixing was up US$3.05 to US$1,282.10. Copper futures were up 0.4 percent to US$2.56. WTI spot crude was down 17 US cents to US$50.27. Dated Brent spot crude was down 6 US cents to US$52.87. The US dollar was down against the euro, pound and the Canadian and Australian dollars. The currency advanced against the yen and was unchanged against the Swiss franc. The Dollar Index was virtually unchanged. The yield on US Treasury 30 year bond was up 2 basis points to 2.89 percent while the yield on the 10 year note was up 3 basis points to 2.24 percent.

Europe

With investors mainly focused on corporate earnings, stocks advanced Thursday. The CAC advanced 1.5 percent despite concerns over Sunday’s first round elections. Both the FTSE and DAX edged up 0.1 percent and the SMI was 0.3 percent higher.

Lufthansa advanced on reports that the airline is in talks with Iran Air to provide catering as well as maintenance, repair and overhaul services. Schneider Electric was higher after reporting first quarter revenues of €5.84 billion. Publicis Groupe gained after the company reported a drop in underlying revenue in the first quarter, but said it expects the second quarter to show an improvement. Pernod Ricard increased after the company reiterated its mid-term target to grow group sales by 4-5 percent after reporting a 3 percent rise in third quarter sales. Burberry Group partially rebounded from Wednesday’s slide when the luxury-goods company said underlying revenue fell in the second half of its financial year.

Man Group climbed after the hedge fund manager reported a 10 percent jump in funds under management for the first quarter. Debenhams sank after it unveiled plans to close up to 10 stores and exit some international markets as part of efforts to cut costs and keep up with changing consumer behavior. Unilever gained after its first-quarter sales topped expectations. Nestle advanced after it confirmed its full-year guidance for underlying sales after reporting first-quarter revenue growth ahead of expectations. Novartis increased after it signed a collaboration deal with virtual Canadian biotech Parvus Therapeutics.

April Eurozone flash consumer confidence improved to a reading of minus 3.6 from minus 5 in March. Germany's producer prices increased for the fifth consecutive month in March. The PPI climbed 3.1 percent on the year.

Asia Pacific

Thanks to an oil price rebound and a pause in the yen’s climb against the US dollar, most indices advanced Thursday. However, overall gains remained muted ahead of this week's French Presidential vote.

The Shanghai Composite inched up 1.41 points while the Hang Seng gained 1.0 percent.

The Nikkei slipped 1.71 points while the Topix edged up 0.1 percent. Energy shares of Inpex and Japan Petroleum slid along with oil prices. Canon climbed ahead of its release of its financial results next week. Advantest and Toshiba rallied. Japan posted a merchandise trade surplus of ¥614.722 billion. Exports climbed an annual 12.0 percent while imports added an annual 15.8 percent.

Australian shares bounced back from three-week lows, led by gains in telecom and financial stocks. The S&P/ASX added 0.30 percent to while the All Ordinaries closed 0.25 percent higher. Telecom stocks including Telstra and TPG Telecom climbed. Banks ANZ, Commonwealth and NAB rose rallied after recent heavy losses. Rio Tinto slipped as it maintained its iron ore shipment guidance for 2017 despite weakening ore prices. Gold miners Newcrest, Northern Star and Regis Resources retreated after gold prices declined the previous day. Woodside Petroleum and Santos fell after oil prices tumbled almost four percent overnight to hit a two-week low after US weekly data showed a surprise increase in gasoline inventories.

The Kospi gained 0.5 percent amid easing tensions over North Korea. The Sensex added 0.3 percent.

Looking Forward

Japan April flash manufacturing PMI will be released along with composite flash PMIs for France, Germany, the Eurozone and the US. The UK will post March retail sales. Canada will release March consumer price index. The US will report March existing home sales.

Global Stock Markets

Global Stock Markets

*Note — all releases are listed in local time.

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