Stock futures rise after better-than-expected Big Tech earnings, Facebook and Apple shares jump

U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday after blowout earnings results from two of the biggest tech stocks: Apple and Facebook.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 132 points. S&P 500 futures rose 0.5% with the benchmark poised to set another record. Nasdaq 100 futures gained nearly 1%.

Apple and Facebook’s strong quarterly results boosted futures. Apple said that sales jumped 54% during the quarter, with each product category seeing double-digit growth. The company also said it would increase its dividend by 7%, and authorized $90 billion in share buybacks. Apple shares were up nearly 3%.

Facebook’s revenue jumped 48%, driven by higher-priced ads. Facebook surged more than 7%.

Qualcomm shares soared 5% after reporting a 52% jump in revenue.

Thursday is the busiest day of the quarterly earnings season, with roughly 11% of the S&P 500 slated to provide quarterly updates. Caterpillar, McDonald’s, Comcast and Merck are among the names on deck before the market opens. Amazon, Gilead Sciences, Twitter, U.S. Steel and Western Digital will post quarterly results after the market closes.

Economic data released Thursday will give investors an update on the progress of the economic recovery. First-quarter GDP will be released at 8:30 am ET and is expected to show a 6.5% annual increase in economic activity, according to Dow Jones estimates. Initial jobless claims numbers will also be released, with economists surveyed by Dow Jones expecting an increase of 528,000, about the same as last week. Pending home sales figures are also due.

The major averages closed in the red during normal trading Wednesday. The Dow slid 165 points for a loss of 0.48%. The S&P 500 hit a record high but couldn’t hold onto those gains and closed 0.08% lower. The Nasdaq Composite declined 0.28%.

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that it would hold interest rates near zero. The S&P slid from its high after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during a press conference following the Federal Open Market Committee’s decision that there are some signs of froth in the market.

“Rates remain unchanged for now and, despite improving economic data, taper talk remained off the table at today’s Federal Reserve meeting,” said Bethany Payne, portfolio manager at Janus Henderson.

“As vaccination rates accelerate, employment strengthens, and expansive fiscal policy adds further support to household and business incomes, investors are now looking for signs of whether the central bank safety net could be withdrawn sooner than expected,” she added.

As of Wednesday morning 86% of the S&P 500 components that have reported topped earnings estimates, with earnings coming in 22.7% above expectations, according to data from Refinitiv. For revenue, 77% of companies have exceeded expectations.

“The primary market trend remains positive,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at Truist. “But we expect a choppier environment as tensions are set to persist between better economic growth and earnings prospects versus the potential for higher taxes and rising interest rates as the economy normalizes,” he added.

Thursday marks President Joe Biden’s 100th day in office. On Wednesday evening, he made his first address to a joint session of Congress where he pushed his so-far popular agenda, which includes a $2 trillion infrastructure plan as well as a freshly unveiled, $1.8 trillion plan for families, children and students.

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