Dow rises to hit intraday record, Nasdaq lower, as big banks show better-than-expected earnings

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U.S. stocks were mostly higher midsession Wednesday as earnings of big banks kicked off the first quarter reporting season, beginning with results from JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs.

Wall Street also was watching for the latest word from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell as well as the Fed’s Beige Book report on business conditions.

In addition, market participants were awaiting the public listing of crypto platform Coinbase Global, which is coming as bitcoin prices BTCUSD, +0.34%, the world’s most prominent crypto, were heading to records.

How are stock benchmarking trading?
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.61% rose 221 points, or 0.7%, to 33,898, after hitting an intraday record of 33,911.25.
  • S&P 500 SPX, +0.10% gained 4 points, or 0.1%, to 4,146.
  • Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.17% slid 34 points, or 0.2%, to 13,962.
  • The Russell 2000 RUT, +1.68% was up 1.7%.

On Tuesday, the Dow DJIA, +0.61% fell 68.13 points to end at 33,677.27, a decline of 0.2%. However, the S&P 500 SPX, +0.10% climbed 13.60 points, closing up 0.3%, to a record 4,141.59, its 21st of the year; The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.17% closed rose 146.10 points, or 1.1%, finishing at 13,996.10, a mere 0.71% from its Feb. 12 record close. The Nasdaq-100 index NDX, -0.52% also finished at a record on Tuesday.

What’s driving the market?

Investors are keying in on first-quarter reports from JPMorgan Chase JPM, -1.04%, Goldman Sachs Group GS, +3.55% and Wells Fargo & Co. WFC, +5.28% on Wednesday for evidence of the health of the country’s financial institutions and for their outlook for the economy.

So far, all three major U.S. financial institutions have reported rising profits and a reduction in reserves that banks have set aside for potential losses from souring loans. The Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund XLF, +1.03%, which tracks the performance of U.S. banks, were up 1.2%.

“The first quarter is a story very much about great expectations. So far, companies are delivering on aggregate here,” Michael Reynolds, investment strategy officer at Glenmede Trust told MarketWatch, though he cautioned only a few companies had reported.

Equities were in the midst of a mini-rotation, as a modest bounceback in long-term bond yields on Wednesday gave a lift to underappreciated companies such as banks that had struggled to catch up with shares of fast-growing businesses last year.

Meanwhile, Powell is delivering a speech at the Economic Club of Washington, where his comments will be watched for clues on the health of the economy and his view on inflation.

Later in the session, investors may also watch for the Fed’s Beige Book report on business conditions in the Fed’s 12 districts amid the COVID pandemic.

In economic data, the U.S. import price index increased 1.2% in March, and 0.8% stripping out for fuel prices. Economists polled by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had forecast 0.9% increase.

Which companies are in focus?
  • Coinbase Global COIN, , one of the first cryptocurrency exchanges to go public, is set to start trading Wednesday with a reference price of $250 a share.
  • Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co. fell 0.6% Wednesday, after CEO Jamie Dimon noted loan demand would remain “challenged” even as the banking giant reported first-quarter profit and revenue that beat expectations.
  • Dollar General CorpDG said Wednesday that it aims to hire up to 20,000 people at in-person and virtual hiring events that the discount retailer will host from April 19 through April 23.
  • Jack in the Box Inc. JACK disclosed Wednesday that it will be “separating” from Andrew Martin, who has been the fast food chain’s chief information officer since November 2016, effective May 7.
  • Shares of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. rose 4.5% Wednesday after the bank and brokerage company reported record profit and revenue that beat expectations.
  • Wells Fargo & Co.  WFC, +5.28% posted stronger-than-expected profit and revenue for the first quarter, boosted by the release of $1.6 billion in its reserves for credit losses. Shares of Wells Fargo rose 4.4%.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. BBBY, -9.67% stock dropped 13% after the home goods retailer reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat expectations, but fell short on sales.
How are other assets faring?
  • The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, -0.22%,  a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.2%.
  • U.S. crude for May delivery CL.1, +4.84%  rose 4.3% to $62.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
  • The 10-year Treasury note yield TMUBMUSD10Y, 1.643%  was up a basis point to 1.64%. Bond prices move inversely to yields.
  • Gold futures finished higher, with the June contract  GCM21, -0.61% falling 0.6% to $1,737.20 an ounce.
  • In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index SXXP rose 0.2%, while London’s FTSE 100 UKX added 0.7%.
  • In Asia, the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP gained 0.6%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI closed up 1.4%, and Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK fell 0.4%.