By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — U.S. stock markets opened higher on Friday but in narrow ranges, ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's keenly-anticipated speech at Jackson Hole.
Powell is expected to map out a rough timeline for tapering the Fed's bond purchases, currently running at $120 billion a month. The big question of the day is whether the market is confident enough in the economic recovery to withstand any message that the central bank is about to start withdrawing its post-pandemic stimulus. Comments from Powell's colleagues at the regional Federal Reserve banks over the last 24 hours have all suggested that an imminent start to tapering is in the cards, given the U.S. economy's recovery so far in 2021. However Powell and others on the Washington based board of Fed governors have generally struck a more dovish tone.
By 9:35 AM ET (1335 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 101 points, or 0.3% at 35,314 points. The S&P 500 was up 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.3%, in what amounted to little more than a correction of Thursday's falls.
Data released earlier showed the Fed's favorite gauge of inflation still running well above the medium-term target of 2% in July. The deflator for personal consumer expenditures showed prices rose 4.2% on the year, although the monthly rise was slightly weaker than expected at 0.3%. Personal incomes, meanwhile, rose 1.1% on the month, well above economists' forecasts.
Workday (NASDAQ:WDAY) stock rose 9.3% after the enterprise software company became the latest in the sector to report buoyant revenue and earnings growth in the second quarter. The decision of major employers such as Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) to postpone their plans for a full return to the office has given a new lease on life to business software companies, given the greater requirements for their services from a more distributed workforce.
That trend has been one factor behind the spectacular rise of small-cap Support.com Inc (NASDAQ:SPRT), which specializes in remote technical support. The stock, which has been heavily shorted, has caught the eye of retail traders who have done well this year out of squeezing short positions in other stocks. Support.com stock was up another 95% after early trading.
Going the other way was HP (NYSE:HPQ) after the PC maker warned of lengthening order backlogs due to component shortages in its quarterly update after the close on Thursday. HP stock fell 3.5% after CEO Enrique Lores said he expected shortages to continue until well into 2022.
Elsewhere, Peloton Interactive (NASDAQ:PTON) stock fell 8.5% after the maker of connected fitness equipment posted a wider net loss than expected on Thursday, warning of higher marketing costs and slashing the price of its most popular exercise bike. It then followed that with the announcement that it had been subpoenaed by the Justice Department for information about reported injuries (including one fatality) sustained by users of its treadmills.
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