U.S. stocks are starting the morning in positive territory but of course, as happened Wednesday, that situation can change on a dime.
The S&P 500 is up 11 points to 1,871, the Dow Jones Industrial average is up 105 points to 15,871 and the Nasdaq is up 29 points to 4,501. The S&P Retail ETF is up over 1 percent to $39.76.
In economic news, initial jobless claims came in at 293,000, which was higher than the consensus of 280,000. While the number remembers below the key level of 300,000, it has nonetheless begun to crawl higher and is now at six-month highs.
Analysts aren’t afraid of the retailers as some upgrades have begun trickling in. Goldman Sachs upgraded Burlington Stores to “buy” from “neutral” and pushed the target price to $69 from $56. Burlington stock rose over 3 percent to $51.66. The analyst believes the discount retailer can get past the problems of the warm winter and expand its margins in upcoming quarters. The analyst also wrote that the margin story is intact and underappreciated.
Online software company Shopify was upgraded by Morgan Stanley to overweight from equal weight and given a $25 price target. Shopify was also boosted by a “buy” rating at Wedbush Securities and given a $25 price target. The stock immediately popped over 9 percent to trade near $22.68 in early trading, but has since settled back to $20.77.
Asian markets ended the day much lower with the China Shanghai Composite down 3.2 percent and Japan’s Nikkei losing 2.4 percent and the Hong Kong Hang Seng dropping 1.8 percent.
Europe opted to buck the Asian trend and so far the major indices are moving higher. The European Central Bank decided to leave the deposit rate and interest rate unchanged. ECB president Mario Draghi’s comments sent stocks higher and the euro lower as he suggested that monetary policy would be reconsidered at the March meeting.
Unifi, a polyester and nylon yarn maker based in Greensboro, N.C., reported fiscal second quarter net income of $6.5 million following Wednesday’s market close. That was much lower than last year’s $9.4 million for the same period. Net sales were $156.3 million for the second quarter, also lower than last year’s $164.4 million. The sales decline was blamed on the Brazilian real devaluation and pricing declines in polyester associated with lower raw material costs. Unifi stock fell over 10 percent to trade near $23.10.
Of course those lower costs include oil, which continues to fall over persistent oversupply and weak demand. West Texas crude was trading near $28 a barrel as supplies were increased with additional Iranian oil following the ending of sanctions.