Wall Street’s main stock indexes gained amid prospects that President-elect Joe Biden could provide details for a COVID-19 relief package of as much as $2 trillion to kickstart an economic recovery.
Meanwhile, US Labor Department data showed that initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 181,000 to a seasonally adjusted 965,000 for the week ended Jan. 9, the highest since late August. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 795,000 applications in the latest week.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both increased 0.3%. The S&P 500 Index added 0.1%.
In earnings news, shares of Signet Jewelers Ltd. spiked almost 8% after the company projected better-than-expected sales for the fourth quarter, following a robust holiday season. Signet reported preliminary holiday sales of $1.8 billion, flat from the year-ago quarter. While its brick-and-mortar sales dropped 4.1% in the holiday season, e-commerce sales spiked 60.8%. Same-store sales (comps) grew 5.6% during the holiday period. Meanwhile, Signet now expects its 4Q comps to be in the range of 4% to 5%, more than double compared to the 1.8% growth analysts had been looking for. The company further forecasted 4Q sales of between $2.10 billion to $2.12 billion, compared to the Street consensus of $2 billion.
Nordstrom stock was down about 1.5% after the department store chain reported a 22% year-over-year decline in sales during the nine-week holiday period ending on Jan. 2. Nordstrom said that its holiday sales trend improved sequentially by about 500 basis points and was in-line with the company’s expectations. The retailer had anticipated a sales decline in low-twenties percentage for the fourth quarter. The company’s online sales during the holiday period rose 23% year-over-year but lagged online sales growth of 34% reported during the same time last year.
In healthcare-related earnings news, Masimo Corp. dropped 4.4% after the medical devices manufacturer provided lower-than-projected profit guidance for 2021. The company expects to report adjusted earnings of $3.80 per share, which is below the Street estimate of $3.82 per share. Product revenue is forecasted to generate $1.2 billion in 2021. Following the announcement, Needham analyst Michael Matson maintained a Hold rating on the stock and said, “there are other med tech companies that should see stronger growth in 2021 as procedure volumes recover.”
In tech news, T-Mobile has inked five-year, multi-billion-dollar agreements with both Ericsson and Nokia to help the mobile carrier accelerate and expand its 5G footprint. T-Mobile said that the deals are built on last year’s merger with Sprint, and will add more 5G coverage, capacity, speed and advanced technical capabilities such as 5G carrier aggregation across all of its spectrum bands. T-Mobile shares slipped 1.4%.
In another 5G deal, Finland’s Nokia has teamed up with Google Cloud to develop 5G core network infrastructure and enable business customers to offer a platform for smart retail, automated manufacturing, and other online consumer experiences. As part of the partnership, Google Cloud will provide the platform for communications service providers (CSPs) to modernize their network infrastructures and unlock monetization opportunities by boosting 5G connectivity and providing new online services for consumers. Nokia will supply its voice core, cloud packet core, network exposure function, data management, signaling, and 5G core. Nokia shares rose 3.5%.
Shares of Provention Bio, Inc. plunged another 5% to trade at $15.82 after the biopharma priced its public offering of 6.25 million shares at $16 per share. The stock shed 14% on Wednesday. Gross proceeds from the offering are expected to be $100 million and the underwriters of the offering have been granted a 30-day call option on an additional 937,500 shares. The offering is expected to close around January 19, 2021.