Belfast Telegraph

US stocks static after post-election rally that saw all-time highs

Stocks ended Wall Street trading mostly unchanged, as cautious investors focus on a batch of earnings reports from US companies, including Facebook and Merck.

Ryder System, a truck leasing company, fell 8% after reporting earnings that fell far short of what Wall Street analysts were expecting.

Ralph Lauren plunged 12% after announcing that Stefan Larsson, who took over as chief executive for Ralph Lauren less than two years ago, is leaving the company.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 6.03 points, or less than 0.1%, to 19,884.91. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.30 points, or 0.1%, to 2,280.85 and the Nasdaq composite fell 6.45 points, or 0.1%, to 5,636.20.

After a post-election rally that pushed stocks to all-time highs and the Dow above the 20,000-point mark, investors have stepped back this week.

Several actions by President Donald Trump, from his immigration ban last weekend, to his various comments on trade, have given investors some concern about whether he is hurting US business confidence and the economy.

"The overall economic and financial backdrop for the market looks quite good, but Trump's comments are spreading some uncertainty," said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management.

Some of that uncertainty could come on Friday with the government's jobs report for January.

For this report, the first that will be at least partially under the tenure of Mr Trump, economists are expecting employers created 175,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate remained at 4.7%, according to FactSet.

However some recent data, including Wednesday's ADP private sector report, has given some traders hope for a jobs report over 200,000.

Along with being important to investors as an economic indicator, the report is likely to be politically fraught.

President Trump has called for measuring unemployment in different ways, through non-traditional metrics like the labour participation rate or the unemployment rate that includes measurements of workers in part-time jobs who want full-time work.

Investors had a large batch of earnings and company news to work through on Thursday.

Facebook fell 2.39 dollars, or 1.8%, to 130.84 dollars despite the company reporting results that easily exceeded analysts' expectations.

The company continues to see huge growth in mobile and video advertising, which has bolstered its bottom line.