Stock Market Today: Stocks Push Higher Ahead of Powell's Jackson Hole Speech

Stocks gained ground Thursday as investors sized up a pair of not-so-bad economic reports ahead of tomorrow’s appearance by Fed Chair Jerome Powell at the central bank’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

This morning, the Labor Department said that weekly jobless claims fell to a one-month low of 243,000 last week, down from the previous week’s revised 245,000. A separate report from the Commerce Department showed gross domestic product (GDP) declined 0.6% in the second quarter, an improvement over the 0.9% drop seen in the initial reading that was released last month – a reading that sparked plenty of recession chatter around Wall Street. 

But all eyes remain on Jackson Hole. “As we await Chair Powell tomorrow, other officials have started on the media circuit,” says Michael Reinking, senior market strategist at the New York Stock Exchange. “The tone of the commentary has been hawkish but has been very much in line with what we’ve heard post the [July] Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The key themes have centered around remaining committed to taming inflation.” Reinking adds that while most central bank officials are holding monetary policy decisions for September’s Fed meeting “close to the vest” as they wait for the next round of economic data, they are also hinting that we’re not quite at a level where they can stop hiking rates.

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Today’s gains were broad-based, with the materials (+2.3%) and the communication services (+2.0%) sectors faring the best. As for the major indexes, the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.7% to 12,639, the S&P 500 Index climbed 1.4% to 4,199, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average tacked on 1.0% to 33,291.

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 rose 1.5% to 1,964.
  • Gold futures rose 0.6% to settle at $1,771.40 an ounce.
  • Bitcoin slipped 0.3% to $21,611.45. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.) 
  • Peloton Interactive (PTON) stock plunged 18.3% after the at-home exercise equipment maker reported earnings. In its fiscal fourth quarter, PTON recorded a net loss of $3.68 per share, compared to a loss of $1.05 per share one year ago. Revenue slumped 28% to $678.7 million, falling short of analysts’ consensus estimate. It was the company’s sixth straight quarter of reporting a loss, though it said it is looking to breakeven on a cash-flow basis in the second half of fiscal 2023. Today’s sharp selloff comes one day after PTON stock surged more than 20% after announcing a deal with Amazon.com (AMZN).
  • Snowflake (SNOW) surged 23.1% after the cloud data platform reported higher-than-expected second-quarter revenue of $497 million. “July quarter results were exceptional and helped remove fears around a more protracted slowdown in data consumption across key customers following a stretch of mixed quarterly reports,” says CFRA Research analyst David Holt. “Second-quarter revenues were $497M (+83% Y/Y), clearing consensus of $467M, as strength in financial services led to the beat.” However, Holt kept a Hold rating on SNOW. “Following today’s gap higher in shares, we prefer to wait and see if the macro/market environment allows for a continuation of improved trends – we note comparables get progressively harder in the back-half of fiscal 2023 in terms of product revenues and remaining performance obligations (RPOs).” 

Is it Time to Buy Energy Stocks?

Oil prices had another miserable day, but energy stocks could still have some fuel left in the tank. U.S. crude futures fell 2.5% today to settle at $92.52 per barrel, and are now down more than 24% from their mid-June highs above $122. 

Still, Jeff Buchbinder, chief equity strategist at independent broker-dealer LPL Financial, says there are three conditions currently in place for the energy sector that are creating a “potential attractive opportunity” for investors. Specifically, Buchbinder believes some of the best investment opportunities occur when the following circumstances are unfolding: “1) the market is pricing in a pessimistic outlook in the form of lower valuations, 2) earnings estimates are being revised higher and growth is accelerating, and 3) technical analysis indicators suggest an impending rebound.” The strategist sees all three conditions present in energy stocks right now.

If that’s not enough to convince you, Buchbinder says to “Follow Warren.” By this he means Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) holding company has been big buyers of oil & gas stocks in 2022. With that in mind, take a look at seven energy stocks that could be among the best ideas for investors for the remainder of this year. 

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