Stock Market Today: Dow Edges Higher as Jobless Claims Keep Sliding
Another week of lower-than-expected unemployment filings failed to move the blue-chip needle much Thursday, though small caps had another strong day.
Fresh data out Thursday continued to paint a rosy picture of the American economy's resurgence, but it prompted little response on Wall Street, where a modest morning rally became even more meager by the close.
Weekly jobless claims declined yet again, with filings for the week ended May 22 lower by 38,000 claims to 406,000, easily coming in under estimates for 425,000.
Also Thursday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis' second estimate of first-quarter U.S. GDP growth came in unchanged at a robust 6.4%.
"The overall picture of economic activity in Q1 remains the same as that reported in the advance GDP report, with personal consumption spending anchoring growth, and business investment responding to strong domestic demand," says Barclays economist Pooja Sriram. "As a result, our outlook for growth in the coming quarters remains unchanged."
But while the small-cap Russell 2000 enjoyed another boisterous day of gains, advancing 1.1% to 2,273, the blue-chip indexes barely budged. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.4% to 34,464, the S&P 500 eked out a 0.1% improvement to 4,200, and the Nasdaq Composite recorded a marginal loss to 13,736.
"Higher GDP numbers typically move stock markets and bond yields higher ... but today's GDP estimate was largely expected," says Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for registered investment advisor Independent Advisor Alliance.
Other action in the stock market today:
- Okta (OKTA, -9.8%) reported a smaller adjusted per-share loss than expected on Street-beating revenues in its first quarter. However, the cybersecurity stock slumped as it guided for a wider per-share loss in the current quarter and full year to reflect the closing of its Auth0 purchase. OKTA also said its chief financial officer, Mike Kourey, is leaving. Nevertheless, Canaccord Genuity reiterated its Buy rating on Okta. "Longer term, work from home is likely to settle at higher levels with accelerating digital transformation, which should continue to drive demand for identity security accordingly. We also view the recently closed acquisition of Auth0 as accretive to growth and strengthening Okta's leadership position in the large and fragmented IAM (identity and access management) market," says Canaccord analyst T. Michael Walkley.
- Dollar Tree (DLTR, -7.7%) took a hit as the discount retailer's disappointing full-year forecast and a warning of increased freight costs offset top- and bottom-line beats for its Q1 results. The shares of sector peer Dollar General (DG, +2.2%), on the other hand, gained ground today after it reported earnings per share and revenues above estimates and boosted its fiscal 2021 guidance.
- U.S. crude oil futures climbed 1% to settle at $66.85 per barrel after data from the Energy Information Administration showed domestic crude inventories declined last week. It was the fifth consecutive win for black gold, the longest such streak since February.
- Gold futures notched their first loss of the week, slipping 0.3% to end at $1,898.50 an ounce.
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) declined again, by 3.5% to 16.75.
- Bitcoin prices were also modestly higher Thursday, crawling 0.7% higher to $38,838.82. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
Just the Start for Value?
Analysts and fund managers continue to bang the drum for underappreciated stocks.
"Growth stocks in the U.S. have been on a multi-year run, and they are looking expensive relative to U.S. value. Value stocks have started to show signs of perking up, and valuations suggest that it is likely overdue," says Meb Faber, CEO of Cambria Funds. "It's nearly impossible to say with certainty that value is back. But if we are truly seeing a shift in fundamental factor performance, there could be a lot more room to run.
"1999, the worst year for the value factor prior to 2020, was followed by the best year on record for value."
If you prefer to let someone else do the driving, you actually have a wealth of value-oriented funds at your disposal, with flavors ranging from vanilla S&P 500 bargains to deeply undervalued mid- and small caps.
Conversely, if you prefer to take the wheel, you'll have to look around a bit – after all, by several metrics, this is one of the most expensive stock markets in history. But there are deals to be found.
As we mentioned yesterday, income investors can tap into several Dividend Aristocrats on the cheap at present. But today, we're looking on the growthier side of things with these five value-priced tech stocks. Technology is one of the priciest market sectors at the moment, but these five picks look inexpensive through a number of valuation lenses.