Stock Market Today: Nasdaq Outperforms as Netflix Stock Soars

The streaming giant posted solid numbers for its lower-cost ad-tier service, helping the tech-heavy Nasdaq to a big win Thursday.

Red Netflix sign on set with Now Streaming written beneath it in blue
(Image credit: Chris Delmas/Getty Images)

Investors kept a cautious eye trained on the debt ceiling crisis Thursday, but with President Joe Biden not returning from the Group of Seven summit in Japan until Sunday, it's unlikely any deal will be announced before then. 

Still, there was plenty for market participants to take in today, including solid earnings reports from Bath & Body Works (BBWI) and Walmart (WMT). But the stock that stole the show was Netflix (NFLX) after it unveiled impressive numbers for its new ad-tier service. 

On Thursday, the major indexes rallied hard after Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy both expressed optimism that a deal will be made on the debt ceiling. Many experts are hopeful lawmakers will come to a resolution ahead of the "X" date, or the day the U.S. is unable to fulfill its financial obligations. 

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

"We believe the government has strong incentives to reach resolution on the debt ceiling, although it may not happen until the 11th hour," the Wells Fargo Investment Institute writes in a note to clients.

On the earnings front, Bath & Body Works stock jumped 10.8% after the maker of body care products reported higher-than-expected first-quarter earnings of 33 cents per share on in-line revenue of $1.4 billion. The company also raised its full-year forecast.

Walmart also reported top- and bottom-line beats for its first-quarter results, sending the Dow stock up 1.3%. By the numbers, revenue rose 7.6% year-over-year to $152.3 billion, while earnings increased 13.1% to $1.47 per share. 

"At the headline level, consumer spending has proven resilient, but below the surface, we continue to see signs that customers remain choiceful, particularly in discretionary categories," said John David Rainey, chief financial officer of Walmart, in the company's earnings call. However, weakness in general merchandise items was offset by strength in grocery, where the company continues "to gain share and grow unit volume," the executive added.

"That was about as impressive a quarter as Walmart could have," says David Wagner, portfolio manager at Aptus Capital Advisors. "The company demonstrated strong Q1 results across the board." While there was consumer discretionary softness across electronics, home and apparel, there was also solid growth in average ticket and transactions, particularly at Sam's Club and international locations, Wagner adds.  

Why Netflix stock soared today

Elsewhere, Netflix stock soared 9.2% after the streaming giant said it has 5 million monthly active users on its lower-cost ad-tier subscription level, and that a quarter of new subscribers were signing up for this option that debuted just six months ago. "The signals are promising: engagement on our ads plan is similar to our comparable non-ads plans," said Greg Peters, co-CEO of Netflix, in a press release. "That's critical because it all starts and ends with consumers."

As for the major indexes, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 1.5% to 12,688, the broader S&P 500 gained 0.9% to 4,198, and the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3% to 33,535.

The best cheap stocks to buy

We tend to focus on long-term, buy-and-hold investments at, like the kind found in the Berkshire Hathaway equity portfolio or stable blue chip stocks. Still, some market participants love the thrill that comes with playing cheap stocks. 

Sure plenty of folks avoid these lower-cost names because they tend to be more risky and volatile than their higher-priced counterparts – and their fundamentals are typically discouraging too. But others prefer them for their affordability and potential to produce big gains in short order. 

If you do decide to trade cheap stocks, just know that they can fall just as quickly as they can rise, so it's wise to buy them in small amounts with capital that you can afford to lose. 

Karee Venema
Senior Investing Editor,

With over a decade of experience writing about the stock market, Karee Venema is the senior investing editor at She joined the publication in April 2021 after 10 years of working as an investing writer and columnist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. In her previous role, Karee focused primarily on options trading, as well as technical, fundamental and sentiment analysis.