U.S. stocks regained a good portion of the ground they lost yesterday amid some reassuring consumer sentiment data. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index notched its highest reading since August. Durable goods orders were up 2.3% in December, which is a much bigger increase than was expected; however, ex-transportation orders were disappointing. On the earnings front, Dow members 3M and United Technologies both posted solid Q4 results, but soft forward guidance from 3M weighed on shares. Pfizer disappointed investors with a loss of $0.06 per share and Harley Davidson results also fell short of expectations. Treasuries were lower after posting big gains yesterday and the U.S. dollar was mostly flat. Global equities were mixed, oil rebounded and gold was lower on the day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 187 points (0.7%) to 28,723, the S&P 500 rose 35 points (1.1%) to 3,278 and the NASDAQ added 130 points (1.4%) to 9,270. 832 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.1 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI oil added $0.34 to $53.48 per barrel and wholesale gasoline rose $0.02 to $1.50 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price was down $7.90 to $1,575.80 per ounce. The Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was flat.
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 131.6 in January, from December’s upwardly-revised 128.2 level, versus the Bloomberg estimate of 128.0. The surge for the index to the highest level since August 2019 came as both the Present Situation Index and Expectations Index of business conditions for the next six months improved solidly. On employment, the labor differential—consumers’ appraisal of jobs being “plentiful” minus being “hard to get”—increased to 37.4 from the 33.5 level posted in December.
December preliminary durable goods orders rose 2.4% month-over-month (m/m), well above estimates of a 0.3% increase and compared to November’s downwardly-revised 3.1% decline. The volatile headline figure jumped as orders for transportation grew sharply, due to a surge in defense aircraft and parts. However, ex-transportation, orders dipped 0.1% m/m, versus forecasts of a 0.3% gain and versus November’s negatively-adjusted 0.4% decline. Moreover, orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, considered a proxy for business spending, fell 0.9%, compared to projections of a 0.2% rise, while the prior month’s figure was revised lower to a 0.1% gain. Orders for computers, machinery, and electrical equipment and appliances fell, while demand for communications equipment moved solidly higher.
The 20-city composite S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index posted a 2.6% y/y gain in home prices in November, versus expectations of a 2.4% increase. Compared to the prior month, home prices were 0.5% higher on a seasonally adjusted basis, compared to forecasts of a 0.4% gain.
The Richmond Fed Manufacturing Activity Index for January jumped back into a level depicting expansion (a reading above zero), surging to 20 versus forecasts calling for the figure to rise to -3 from December’s -5 level. New orders, shipments and order backlogs all moved into expansion territory.
Treasuries were lower, with the yield on the 2-year note ticking 3 basis point (bps) higher to 1.46%, while the yield on the 10-year note added 4 bps to 1.65% and the 30-year bond yield increased 5 bps to 2.10%.
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