Stock market today: Wall Street climbs ahead of US GDP data

Wall Street pointed toward gains ahead of the release of data expected to show the world’s biggest economy cooled in the first quarter despite a very strong showing from the largest companies in the U.S. during the same period.

Futures for the Dow Jones industrials rose 0.4% and the S&P 500 inched 0.5% higher before the opening bell Thursday

The U.S. economy stood firm last year but is expected to weaken and potentially slip into a recession in coming months. Worries over the impact of higher interest rates aimed at vanquishing high inflation are detracting from relatively strong earnings reports for many companies.

Shares in Facebook parent company Meta jumped 12% in off-hours trading after its first-quarter results beat Wall Street’s modest expectations on both profit and revenue. Meta’s revenue guidance for the current quarter was also above analyst estimates.

Meta’s surprisingly strong quarter echoed results from other high-profile companies. General Motors, Microsoft, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s have all posted better-than-expected financial results this week.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines muscled through a tough quarter but see travel picking up strongly in the crucial summer travel season, dispelling fears that inflation would suppress the desire of Americans to vacation. Southwest lost $159 million due to aftershocks from the December meltdown that caused thousands of canceled flights. Its shares tumbled 4.5% before the bell Wednesday.

Elsewhere, at midday in Europe, France’s CAC 40 added 0.3%, while Germany’s DAX edged up 0.1% and Britain’s FTSE 100 inched down 0.1%.

In Asian trading, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 recouped morning losses to add 0.2%, finishing at 28,457.68.

The Bank of Japan began a two-day monetary policy meeting under its new governor, Kazuo Ueda. No immediate change is expected to the nation’s super-easy monetary policy.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.3% to 7,292.70. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.4% to 2,495.81. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.4% to 19,840.28, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.7% to 3,285.88.

Kirin Holdings Co., a Japanese maker of beer and other beverages, rose 0.5% after it announced it was acquiring 100% of the outstanding shares of Blackmores, an Australian-based company operating a natural health business in the Asia-Pacific region. The move will make Blackmores a Kirin subsidiary in a deal valued at 169.2 billion yen ($1.3 billion)

On Wall Street on Wednesday, the S&P 500 dropped 0.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7%. The Nasdaq composite led the market with a gain 0.5%.

Concerns about the strength of U.S. banks have weighed on markets lately, especially the spotlight on First Republic Bank. The worry is that it and other smaller and mid-sized banks could suffer debilitating runs of deposits from customers, similar to the ones that caused last month’s failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

Even without more shutdowns, the industry’s struggles could cause a pullback in lending by banks that would sap the economy. All banks are contending with much higher interest rates, which have flown higher over the past year to tighten the screws on the economy and financial markets.

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s key overnight interest rate is at its highest level since 2007. High rates slow the entire economy and hurt prices for investments.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added 34 cents to $74.64 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 30 cents to $78.02 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar dipped to 133.47 Japanese yen from 133.66 yen. The euro was unchanged at $1.1042.


Kageyama reported from Tokyo; Ott reported from Silver Spring, Md.