By Mark DeCambre and Sunny Oh
“You could have a perfect storm of inflation, but the fear is the Fed would look at that and decide it’s just cyclical,” said Clemons.
On Thursday, Kansas City Fed President Esther George said that inflation could quickly rise once more Americans are vaccinated and the U.S. central bank should monitor price signals closely. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said
Meanwhile, investors were digesting the latest weekly reading on those seeking unemployment benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with initial state jobless claims dropping 111,000 to 730,000 in the week of Feb. 20. Economists had expected first-time jobless claims to come in at 845,000. The fall was larger than expected, but claims data has been erratic and unreliable lately, due to processing snafus, bad weather and other problems.
On the plus side, continuing state jobless claims declined 101,000 to 4.42 million. However, the number of people out of work from the pandemic remains very elevated.
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday said that Johnson & Johnson’s /zigman2/quotes/201724570/composite JNJ +0.15% single-dose COVID-19 vaccine candidate has no unexpected safety concerns , in a step that moves the experimental vaccine one step closer to emergency authorization.
In other economic data, sales of durable goods rose 1.4% in January, with core capital goods orders advancing 0.5% last month. Separately, an updated reading of U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product was raised slightly to 4.1% from 4% from the first estimate.
Meanwhile, the index of pending home sales fell 2.8% in January, after four consecutive months of declines, the National Association of Realtors. The index captures real-estate transactions where a contract was signed, but the sale has not yet closed, making it an indicator of where existing-home sales will go in the months ahead.
Investors were also focused in a renewed surge by shares of GameStop Corp. GME shares, which rose 19% Thursday, building on a gain of more than 100% in the prvious session. The stock had spiked in January amid concerted buying efforts by participants in Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum, sparking a short covering rally that briefly sent ripples through equity markets that attracted scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers.
Which companies were in focus?
Shares of movie-theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200235402/composite AMC +1.64% , another popular stock on WallStreetBets, gained 8.9% in volatile trading.
Shares of NVIDIA Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200467500/composite NVDA +4.23% fell 8.2% after the company late Wednesday reported that its quarterly revenue blew past last quarter’s record-setting sales , as high holiday demand for chips used in video games met with supply shortages.
Verizon Communications Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204980236/composite VZ -0.20% was overwhelmingly the largest bidder in a crucial 5G auction, spending $45.5 billion, or more than half the auction’s total revenues of $81.2 billion, the Federal Communications Commission disclosed Wednesday afternoon. AT&T Inc. /zigman2/quotes/203165245/composite T +0.09% spent 23.4 billion in the C-band auction, while T-Mobile US. Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204659678/composite TMUS +2.46% spent $9.3 billion. Shares of Verizon ended 1.1% lower, those for T-Mobile 2.5% higher and AT&T shares finished 1.3% lower.
Shares of Best Buy Co. Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205918291/composite BBY +1.17% closed down 9.3% after earnings and revenues fell short of forecasts.
Moderna Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +7.68% shares rose 2.5% after reporting fourth-quarter results.
How did other markets perform?
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index, DXY a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was flat.
Oil futures jumped to a 13-month high, with the U.S. benchmark CL.1 gaining 31 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at $63.53 per barrel. April gold futures lost $22.50, or nearly 1.3%, to settle at $1,775.40 an ounce as yields resumed their upward march.
In overseas stock trading, the pan-European Stoxx 600 SXXP closed down 0.4% and London’s FTSE 100 UKX fell 0.1%. In Asian trade, the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP closed 0.6% higher, China’s CSI 300 /zigman2/quotes/210598128/delayed XX:000300 +2.36% rose 0.6%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI rose 1.2%.