U.S. stocks dropped Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling more than 100 points after oil prices reversed and continued to slide. That occurred after weaker than expected U.S. data spurred growth economic concerns.
Global stocks, meanwhile, were weighed down after the Swiss National Bank shocked financial markets by abandoning a three-year-old cap on the franc. The move sent the currency soaring more than 41 percent. Swiss stocks plunged more than 10 percent following the announcement.
On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 106.38 points, or 0.61 percent, at 17,320.71; the S&P 500 stock index lost 18.60 points, or 0.92 percent, at 1,992.67. The Nasdaq Composite fell 68.50 points, or 1.48 percent, at 4,570.82.
Analysts are now looking ahead to chipmaker Intel Corp. as it is set to reveal its latest quarterly results after the U.S. financial markets close Thursday, following earnings misses from Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corporation ahead of the opening bell.
Intel Q4 Earnings Results
After the closing bell Thursday, Intel Corporation is scheduled to release fourth-quarter results, followed by a conference call with shareholders at 5 p.m. EST.
Analysts will be watching for any hints to how a prolonged period of U.S. dollar strengthening might hurt U.S. multinational corporations like Intel. Nearly 83 percent of the chipmaker’s sales come from overseas. “We expect the stronger dollar to act as a headwind for multinationals,” said Angelo Zino, an analyst at S&P Capital IQ.
Wall Street expects Intel to report fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $3.32 billion, or earnings per share of 66 cents, on revenue of $14.7 billion, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. That compares with a profit of $2.63 billion, or earnings per share of 51 cents, on revenue of $13.83 billion during the same period a year earlier.
In the last three months, Intel’s (NASDAQ:INTC) stock price has gained 16.40 percent to $35.27.
U.S. Gold Prices Jump 2.3%
U.S. gold hit a four-month high as prices for February delivery jumped more than 2.32 percent at $1,263 an ounce as investors digested the Swiss Central Bank's moves and fled to safety on Thursday. Investors were also trying to make sense of another surprise move: The Reserve Bank of India on Thursday slashed interest rates, in the first cut since March 2013. The cut is an attempt to spur growth in Asia's third-largest economy. The central bank cut its key repo rate by 25 basis points to 7.75 percent.
The central bank cut its policy rates at an unscheduled meeting on Thursday, much sooner than most economists had expected. “Given the weakness of the economy and recent falls in inflation, we maintain our forecasts that the repo and reverse repo rates will end the year at 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively,” London-based Capital Economics said in a research note Thursday.
U.S. Producer Prices Fall by Most in Three Years
The U.S. Department of Labor released a key inflation gauge Thursday, which revealed producer prices dropped by the most since October 2011, giving some Federal Reserve officials room to pause as they debate whether to hike interest rates this year, which most economists expect to happen in the middle of 2015.
The Producer Price Index, which measures U.S. wholesale prices, declined 0.3 percent in December after falling 0.2 percent in November, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday.
Producer prices were dragged down by the slump in energy prices weighed down by crashing oil prices, according to Paul Ashworth, chief economist at Capital Economics. The annual PPI inflation rate dropped to 1.1 percent, from 1.4 percent, but the core PPI inflation rate, which excludes the volatile food and energy components, actually increased to 2.1 percent, from 1.8 percent. “As the Fed recognizes that the impact of lower energy prices on inflation will be temporary, it might well be more concerned by the pickup in underlying inflation,” Ashworth said in a research note Thursday.
Oil prices declined Thursday, after initially rallying 5 percent in the previous session, after mixed data spurred global demand fears. West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, lost 3.53 percent Thursday to $46.77 per barrel, for Feb. 15 delivery, on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil prices, lost 2.14 percent Thursday, to $47.65 per barrel, for Feb. 15 delivery, on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Citigroup, Bank of America Q4 Earnings Misses
Initial fourth-quarter results are beginning to reveal a lackluster earnings season after Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corporation missed Wall Street expectations earlier on Thursday. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase & Co. missed expectations Wednesday after the investment giant reported a 6.6 percent drop in quarterly profit as legal costs exceeded $1 billion in the wake of government probes. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo & Co. posted solid fourth-quarter results, in line with forecasts.
During afternoon trading, shares of Citigroup dropped 3.57 percent to $47.30 after the company’s fourth-quarter earnings plunged 86 percent due to a $3.5 billion charge from legal costs. Citigroup reported a fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $350 million, or earnings of 6 cents per share, on revenue of $17.8 billion, compared with a profit of $2.46 billion, or earnings per share of 77 cents, on revenue of $17.78 billion a year ago.
Bank of America Corporation’s stock price dropped 4.33 percent to $15.35 after the company issued an 11 percent drop in quarterly profit, largely due to lower revenue from fixed-income trading. Bank of America reported fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $3.05 billion, or 25 cents per share, on revenue of $19 billion, compared with a profit of $3.44 billion, or earnings per share of 29 cents, on revenue of $21.49 billion a year ago.