James Bullard, CEO and president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, in an interview on February 25, 2016.
David Orrell/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
US stocks closed higher on Thursday as investors digested new economic data and comments from the Fed’s James Bullard.Jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 250,000 last week, while existing home sales fell for the sixth straight month.Meanwhile, Fed President James Bullard favors a 75 basis point rate hike in September to combat inflation.
US stocks traded mixed for most of Thursday’s session before closing higher as investors digested several economic data points and new comments from Fed President James Bullard.
Existing home sales fell for the sixth straight month in July, hitting a two-year low as the housing market continues to cool down due to soaring mortgage rates. Existing home sales fell to an annual rate of 4.81 million in July, the National Association of Realtors said.
Weekly jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 250,000 last week, well below estimates for 260,000. The data highlight that rising layoffs and hiring freezes from select technology companies have yet to put a dent in the overall labor market.
The data bolsters the Federal Reserve’s view that it still has some work to do to cool down the strong job market, increasing the likelihood of an outsized interest rate hike in late September. At least, that’s what Bullard thinks, as he told The Wall Street Journal that a 75 basis point rate hike in September would be appropriate.
Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4:00 p.m. ET close on Thursday:
S&P 500: 4,283.74, up 0.23%Dow Jones Industrial Average: 33,999.04, up 0.06% (18.72 points)Nasdaq Composite: 12,965.34, up 0.21%
“We should continue to move expeditiously to a level of the policy rate that will put significant downward pressure on inflation… I don’t really see why you want to drag out interest rate increases into next year,” Bullard said.
European natural gas prices continue to rise and are now 10 times the usual amount for this time of year, Bloomberg data shows. Dutch TTF natural gas futures, the benchmark European price, hovered near 234 euros per megawatt hour Thursday, up about 3.5% intraday.
Europe is stepping up its imports of diesel from sources around the world as an energy crisis grips the continent, forcing industries to burn the oil product instead of increasingly expensive natural gas.
Bed Bath & Beyond plummeted up to 18.2% in Thursday’s premarket after a major shareholder moved to sell his stake in the meme stock. Ryan Cohen’s RC Ventures intends to dump the 9.45 million shares it holds, according to an SEC filing.
A college student reportedly managed to bank a $110 million profit on his $25 million stake in Bed Bath & Beyond after its surge higher in recent weeks. The 20-year old Jake Freeman cashed out his stake prior to today’s big fall. It was also revealed that the college student and his uncle had amassed a stake in pharmaceutical company Mind Medicine, sending shares surging during the session Thursday.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose 2.38% to $90.21 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, rose 3.15% to $96.60.
Bitcoin fell 0.27% to $23,380. Ether prices rose 1.50% to $1,875.
Gold fell 0.20% to $1,773.10 per ounce. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell 3 basis points to 2.87%.